Mainstream media is reporting that the Justice Department is looking to subordinate the law to have people indefinitely detained during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report from Politico, Attorney General William Barr is spearheading the effort to ask “Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States.”
The report adds:
Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted. POLITICO also reviewed and previously reported on documents seeking the authority to extend deadlines on merger reviews and prosecutions.
The move has tapped into a broader fear among civil liberties advocates and Donald Trump’s critics — that the president will use a moment of crisis to push for controversial policy changes. Already, he has cited the pandemic as a reason for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims. He has also pushed for further tax cuts as the economy withers, arguing that it would soften the financial blow to Americans. And even without policy changes, Trump has vast emergency powers that he could legally deploy right now to try and slow the coronavirus outbreak.
The DOJ requests — which are unlikely to make it through a Democratic-led House — span several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated.
The Politico report continued: “The move has tapped into a broader fear among civil liberties advocates and Donald Trump’s critics — that the president will use a moment of crisis to push for controversial policy changes. Already, he has cited the pandemic as a reason for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims.”
BizPac Review reports the Department of Justice has yet to comment on the report, which drew criticisms from both Democratic and Republican officials.
“OVER MY DEAD BODY,” Republican Senator Mike Lee tweeted.
“Donald Trump, please refute and disavow this immediately,” he added in a subsequent tweet.
@realDonaldTrump, please refute and disavow this immediately.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) March 21, 2020
Fellow Senator Justin Amash, an Independent and former Republican, tweeted: “Congress must loudly reply NO.”
Congress must loudly reply NO.
“The Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies.” https://t.co/B0TL8y6Sbh
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 21, 2020
“Two Words: Hell No,” Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer added on Sunday.
Two Words: Hell No. https://t.co/AGlo7cz20i
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 22, 2020
“Absolutely not,” Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Absolutely not. https://t.co/buaiiU92Xk
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 21, 2020
“No, no, hell no. Also no. And by the way, no,” conservative blogger Matt Walsh tweeted.
No, no, hell no. Also no. And by the way, no. https://t.co/xdsM3zrmTS
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) March 21, 2020
Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce similarly echoed: “Nope, nope, nopity nope nope NO.”
— Tammy Bruce (@HeyTammyBruce) March 22, 2020
Here’s some more responses:
WTH? I repeat — there is no good reason to suspend due process in our quest for health and safety. It doesn’t matter who is doing it or whether “for your own good.” This better be fake news…. https://t.co/cuMExURwvn
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) March 21, 2020
Some of these might make sense TEMPORARILY, but even those require serious checks on them to ensure they can’t be extended indefinitely at the discretion of the White House, no matter who is president. https://t.co/3jEahZwcdz
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) March 21, 2020