Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., attends a House Oversight Committee hearing on high prescription drugs prices shortly after her private meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 26, 2019. The high-profile freshman and the veteran Pelosi have been critical of one another recently. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) gets it right. She recently commented on the recent Politico report exposing the fact that the Department of Justice (DOJ) silently asked Congress to expand its emergency powers in a way that could allow the state to imprison people indefinitely without trial during a crisis situation like the coronavirus outbreak.
In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Ocasio-Cortez slammed the effort, arguing that it was an “authoritarian” move. “There’s 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,” she asserted. “And, in fact, this is the time when we need them the absolute most.”
She continued: “We have to keep an eye out for these kind of authoritarian and, frankly, for these – this expansion – and, rather, and suspension of rule of law.” She also insisted that “there’s no reason for us to be waiving folks’ civil rights in an emergency.”
The DOJ told The Washington Post that the department is attempting to “harmonize what is already being done on an ad hoc basis by courts around the country.” The move has been roundly criticized by individuals on both the right and the left.
The idea that the DOJ would make such a request is troubling, especially for those who take issue with the idea of a government strong enough to violate the rights of American citizens. In a previous article, I wrote:
“One of the documents suggested that Congress give the attorney general the authority to ask the chief judge of any district to halt court hearings ‘whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation.’”
While it is unlikely that the DOJ’s proposal would be made into law, the fact that the department is attempting to strengthen it’s ability to dismiss people’s rights is problematic to say the least. The fact that they are making this request while the coronavirus is distracting the American public indicates that they are aware of the unpopularity of such a notion.
AOC is spot on in her criticism of the DOJ’s effort, but her objection raises questions as to her motives. If the DOJ had made this request under a Democratic administration, would she still find fault with it? The policies she espouses would also grant more power to the government and give them more of a foothold in the lives of everyday Americans.
To be fair, the lawmaker has not advocated for policies that would allow the Justice Department to become more intrusive, but it’s a valid question nonetheless. Either way, the fact that high-profile individuals on both sides are condemning the DOJ’s proposal is a positive sign. At least some in Congress do not favor giving the Justice Department more power.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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