This is how our republic dies: Not by foreign invaders creeping onto our shores and over our borders in the dead of night. It doesn’t happen through an election where the other side wins.
No, it happens when those in office no longer fear the will of our citizens. Cultish mindsets and tribal allegiances can allow dangerous autocrats to wreak havoc on the precarious balance of liberty.
Our freedoms are taken through tiny bites. Rarely does it happen all at once, but with the fear of the coronavirus upon us, we’re now seeing just how far the emissaries of Trump world are willing to go to upend the nation.
On Saturday, Politico reported on an effort by Trump’s Department of Justice – led by his paid dog, Attorney William Barr – to strip away an essential part of our Constitution. Namely, the right to a speedy trial and due process through our laws.
That’s the Sixth Amendment, y’all.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
We’ve already seen a trampling of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
I’ve found the call to shut down all gatherings of 50 people or more particularly odious, as it has cut into my time of fellowship and worship with my church family.
That being said, I understand the concern. I just feel it is a slippery slope on the way to a post-America period, where our rights become shadows and suggestions.
In this new outrage, cloaked in the lie of “public interests,” Barr is asking for the power to detain – INDEFINITELY and WITHOUT TRIAL – people during what is deemed national “emergencies.”
This is William Barr, the man who publicly misrepresented the findings of the Mueller Report, before allowing the people to see what was in it.
Most recently, he’s moved to drop charges against Russians that were indicted for interfering in our nation’s elections.
He’s a man whose only role is to act as a corrupt president’s personal “fixer,” even if it is against our nation’s interests and security.
Do I trust William Barr when he says this latest suggestion is just for emergencies?
I do not.
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.
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.”
The department also asked Congress to pause the statute of limitations for criminal investigations and civil proceedings during national emergencies, “and for one year following the end of the national emergency,” according to the draft legislative text.
Another controversial request: The department is looking to change the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure in some cases to expand the use of videoconference hearings, and to let some of those hearings happen without defendants’ consent, according to the draft legislative text.
“Video teleconferencing may be used to conduct an appearance under this rule,” read a draft of potential new language for Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 5(f), crossing out the phrase “if the defendant consents.”
“Video teleconferencing may be used to arraign a defendant,” read draft text of rule 10(c), again striking out the phrase “if the defendant consents.”
The department also wants Congress to change the law to explicitly say that people with Covid-19 –– the illness caused by the novel coronavirus –– are not included among those who may apply for asylum. And the department asked for the same change regarding people who are “subject to a presidential proclamation suspending and limiting the entry of aliens into the United States,” according to the draft legislative language.
Are we absorbing all of this?
I’ve long felt that there will be a time of testing for American Christians, based on their lukewarm approach to the Great Commission. The age of Trump has peeled back the thin veil of what has been truth for far too long. Too many American Christians think the government can do their job by legislating morality. They’ve been content to sit back Monday through Saturday, play disciple on Sunday, and otherwise fail to be the hands and feet of Christ outside of the church walls.
Instead of charging into the darkness to win souls to the kingdom, we think if we vote for someone who says the right words, we’ll suddenly end abortion, gay marriage, and every other manner of ungodliness that has gripped our world.
Newsflash: Only changed hearts, redeemed spirits can end those atrocities. Winning souls trumps winning elections, every time.
It’s ironic that China, where this virus that acts as the onus to the stripping away of our liberties began, is the example for what may soon come for the American saints.
China has a thriving Christian community that exists through home churches, since the government will not allow for the free practice of Christian worship. That may be the way we’re heading, given the current climate.
If the government decides that you can be locked away without trial, however, then that is where the real danger for us all – Christian or not – exists.
The bright side is that this is unlikely to make it through Congress. For now, our republic has a bulwark against the un-American impulses of Trump’s lackeys.
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
I encourage you all to use caution in keeping healthy and safe from this virus, but never grow complacent in holding our elected officials to account. Watch our government and defend our liberties from the homegrown threats that exist within both major parties.