‘There is a long history … of using emergencies as times to really start to encroach upon people’s civil rights and, in fact, this is the time when we need them the absolute most…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) The Justice Department quietly asked Congress to expand its “emergency powers” amid the coronavirus outbreak, and one of the requested powers would allow the DOJ to ask chief judges to indefinitely detain people without trial.
This new power would grant the attorney general power to ask the chief judge of any district court to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience or other emergency situation,” according to documents obtained by Politico.
This proposal would also allow those top judges to pause “any statues or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil process and proceedings,” the documents revealed.
The proposal was met with bipartisan condemnation:
OVER MY DEAD BODY https://t.co/B8BRbvRDDa.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) March 21, 2020
“If this is a joke, it’s not funny,” said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. “If it’s not a joke, we’ve got much bigger problems.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, D-N.Y., similarly blasted the proposal and called the DOJ’s proposal “abhorrent.”
“There is a long history in this country and in other countries of using emergencies as times to really start to encroach upon people’s civil rights and, in fact, this is the time when we need them the absolute most. We have to keep an eye out for these kind of authoritarian and frankly, for this expansion of — and rather, suspension of rule of law,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN this weekend.
Absolutely not. https://t.co/buaiiU92Xk
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 21, 2020
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had “two words” for the proposal:
Two Words: Hell No. https://t.co/AGlo7cz20i
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 22, 2020