DOJ's Request For 'Emergency Powers' Slammed By Both Parties "OVER MY DEAD BODY!"
Interesting move on the Department of Justice's part. While the rest of us have been concerned about supplies, paychecks, and quarantine during the Covid-19 crisis, the DOJ quietly asked for "emergency powers". Including the ability to ask justices to hold people indefinitely without a trial.
According to a report released by Politico, the request comes as a direct result of the Coronavirus crisis.
In one of the documents, the department proposed that Congress 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."
The proposal would also grant those top judges broad authority to pause court proceedings during emergencies. It would apply to "any statutes 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," according to draft legislative language the department shared with Congress. In making the case for the change, the DOJ document wrote that individual judges can currently pause proceedings during emergencies, but that their proposal would make sure all judges in any particular district could handle emergencies "in a consistent manner."
Just as Politico noted this right to be seen before a judge and seek release after charges have been filed, known as habeas corpus, is a constitutional right. Giving the DOJ the power to detain someone indefinitely would certainly violate their rights. Per the Constitution, "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."
The proposal was immediately condemned. It was a fairly bipartisan response from both parties with folks like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Chuck Schummer opposing the motion as well.
"OVER MY DEAD BODY," Sen. Mike Lee R, from Utah said: "If this is a joke, it's not funny," he added.
If this is a joke, it’s not funny.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) March 21, 2020
According to the report released by Politico, the DOJ made several proposals. Including one to "pause the statute of limitations for criminal investigations and civil proceedings during national emergencies" as well as "expand the use of videoconference hearings, and to let some of those hearings happen without defendants' consent."
I guess the question is, are we here yet? Have we reached a point where such power should be given to the DOJ in cases where the courts may be partially or fully closed because of the virus? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.