17 votes

US Department of Justice seeks new emergency powers amid coronavirus pandemic

19 comments

  1. [13]
    Loire
    Link
    There was a thread, not long ego, where we were discussing the dissolution of specific civil liberties under the guise of controlling the pandemic in which a number of posters were incredulous...

    There was a thread, not long ego, where we were discussing the dissolution of specific civil liberties under the guise of controlling the pandemic in which a number of posters were incredulous about the long lasting consequences of such actions.

    "Not only would it be a violation of that, but it says ‘affecting pre-arrest,’” said Norman L. Reimer, the executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “So that means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. I find it absolutely terrifying. Especially in a time of emergency, we should be very careful about granting new powers to the government.”

    I do wonder if those same people still think it's a good idea to grant government excess and unconstitutional powers in the face of a Trump administration that is actually attempting to push the boundaries and erode habeas corpus.

    12 votes
    1. [12]
      moonbathers
      Link Parent
      We're all in agreement here that this regime is the worst possible one to have these sort of powers. No one advocated for this shit. All I said was we should be open to temporary travel...

      We're all in agreement here that this regime is the worst possible one to have these sort of powers. No one advocated for this shit. All I said was we should be open to temporary travel restrictions and this isn't it.

      I stand by what I said before. The Constitution isn't some sacred document created with divine knowledge bestowed upon the founding fathers. Saying "that's unconstitutional!" doesn't matter to a lot of people because we're more concerned about what we believe is right in 2020, not what a group of aristocrats thought was right in 1787. And right now a bunch of us think some sort of quarantine order is right. Do you think Italy is going to slide into dictatorship because of this? Besides, you could apply that sort of logic to pretty much anything the government does. The right argued that legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to legalization of pedophilia, bestiality, etc., and no one in their right mind thinks that's actually going to happen.

      6 votes
      1. [4]
        Kuromantis
        Link Parent
        I think the problem here isn't 'is this good/bad' it's 'can I trust my government to use it's emergency powers as intended' and the Trump administration track record is more than just a no.

        I think the problem here isn't 'is this good/bad' it's 'can I trust my government to use it's emergency powers as intended' and the Trump administration track record is more than just a no.

        9 votes
        1. [3]
          moonbathers
          Link Parent
          So then what do we do? Do we let people continue to go about their lives and needlessly put themselves and countless others in danger? Six thousand cases of coronavirus in South Korea happened...

          So then what do we do? Do we let people continue to go about their lives and needlessly put themselves and countless others in danger? Six thousand cases of coronavirus in South Korea happened because a single person decided to be a fucking idiot and not quarantine.

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            Kuromantis
            Link Parent
            We either take it upon ourselves to warn them or, in all honesty, nothing. Again, it's a purely personal question of: 'do I trust Donald Trump enough to give him emergency powers and not pass this...

            So then what do we do? Do we let people continue to go about their lives and needlessly put themselves and countless others in danger? Six thousand cases of coronavirus in South Korea happened because a single person decided to be a fucking idiot and not quarantine.

            We either take it upon ourselves to warn them or, in all honesty, nothing.

            Again, it's a purely personal question of: 'do I trust Donald Trump enough to give him emergency powers and not pass this law that effectively allows him to jail political dissidents instead of firing them from office?' Unfortunately this means that none of this is really about the virus anymore. It's about whether Trump will use said powers appropriately to protect us from the virus and this article completely flies in the face of that argument. Now granted, this needs Congress approval to pass and with the Democrats in the house it won't, but even then, Trump still has a variety of things he can do, many of which would still be dangerous to a democracy.

            3 votes
            1. moonbathers
              Link Parent
              These aren't related. The regime is trying to jail political dissidents, yes, but we are capable of drawing lines. I have never and do not want the regime to do that. I'm not advocating jail time...

              'do I trust Donald Trump enough to give him emergency powers and not pass this law that effectively allows him to jail political dissidents instead of firing them from office?'

              These aren't related. The regime is trying to jail political dissidents, yes, but we are capable of drawing lines. I have never and do not want the regime to do that. I'm not advocating jail time for people who violate some sort of lockdown. At most I would want small fines (like $10 seat belt violation level) for people not staying inside.

              Innocent people are dying because a few people couldn't be bothered to stop being selfish pieces of shit for a short amount of time. Why do we let a few people endanger the rest of us? This is the same mentality that's currently destroying our environment.

              2 votes
      2. [7]
        Loire
        Link Parent
        You have to understand when I say "unconstitutional" I am not necessarily referring directly to the American Constitution (although when referring to America specifically then I am). There is a...

        You have to understand when I say "unconstitutional" I am not necessarily referring directly to the American Constitution (although when referring to America specifically then I am). There is a distinction between The Constitution and the general term "unconstitutional", of which is referring to the basic principles and laws of a democratic state, the describe the powers of the government and guarantee certain rights to the state's citizens. Constitutions are fundamental to any democratic nation. So using the "old white aristocrats from the 18th century" argument doesn't really matter because every western liberal nation has a constitution that was written, added to, or reaffirmed at any point in time between then and now. Charters of Rights, Bills of Rights, whatever they are called, are written not only for the present but for the future as well. Canada didn't write Section 6 of their Charter of Rights and Freedoms (mobility rights) with the belief that the right should be infringed upon one day. They wrote it for all Canadians for as long as Canada exists because it's considered a fundamental right.

        I'm not exactly sure how your Republican gas lighting/gay rights argument applies, but @Kuromantis strikes the nail on the head. Constitutional rights are enshrined in relative permanence because you can't trust any government not to overstep their bounds. This isn't even about Trump although, yes, this admin is the perfect example of why emergency powers are dangerous. Even a relatively "good" leader may abuse their powers because they think it's necessary for the greater good. Even the Obama administration executed american citizens without due process using drone strikes, and nobody reasonable would call Obama a tyrant.

        If the government can limit American's right to free travel during an emergency what stops them from limiting habeas corpus during the same emergency? Absolutely nothing. I can see the DOJ's argument for why this is necessary, does that mean it's right to limit habeas corpus? How do we know the limits of what constitutes an emergency? How do we know the limits of when the emergency is over?

        There will always be some reason to restrict fundamental rights. Some emergency, or threat. The point of Rights and Freedoms in a liberal society is that they are absolute so that you never have to fear their removal. Their strength underpins the entire function of a democratic society.

        7 votes
        1. [2]
          AnthonyB
          Link Parent
          Obviously, when the public grants the government excess powers, they will need to stay attentive and politically active in order to prevent abuse of those powers. For that reason, I understand the...

          If the government can limit American's right to free travel during an emergency what stops them from limiting habeas corpus during the same emergency? Absolutely nothing. I can see the DOJ's argument for why this is necessary, does that mean it's right to limit habeas corpus? How do we know the limits of what constitutes an emergency? How do we know the limits of when the emergency is over?

          Obviously, when the public grants the government excess powers, they will need to stay attentive and politically active in order to prevent abuse of those powers. For that reason, I understand the concern. Still, I'm not sure I follow your logic here, and I don't agree with your depiction of coronavirus in the other thread (Algernon already posted a good response to the flu comparison in that thread, so no need to cover that).

          As for your argument, are you saying that we should never give up rights during an emergency? What if this virus had a 50% death rate? Would you be just as concerned for the potential infringement of other rights? I think the underlying problem with your position is you don't think the risks brought by coronavirus justify that type of response. I think that's a different issue than the argument you're making here, which, with all due respect, is a bit of a slippery slope.

          If we decide to forefit one right for the greater good, that doesn't mean we're giving up all of them. At the end of the day the limits of the government's actions are set by the public's acceptance and cooperation, which is relative to the situation we're in. None of our rights are absolute, nor should they be. If the threat from an emergency justifies drastic measures, the public will accept it and give up rights for safety. So, technically, the only thing stopping the government from suspending habeas corpus or shooting people that have the virus is our approval, and that all depends on the justification. It's a scary thought, but it's something we have to live with, or else our responses to emergencies would be crippled. Think about WWII and the blackouts on the west coast. During peacetime, the idea of having the government tell you when to turn your lights off would be insane and totally unjust. Under the threat of bombing, however, it made sense and was necessary for the greater good of society. In this current emergency, restricting travel is almost certainly necessary in order to keep the public safe. The Trump administration's proposals from this article are not justified. We can accept the former, while rejecting the latter.

          6 votes
          1. Loire
            Link Parent
            These are the difficult philosophical questions that have plagued us for eternity. And you know as well as I do that no one can answer them. Was it right that we imprisoned innocent...

            As for your argument, are you saying that we should never give up rights during an emergency? What if this virus had a 50% death rate? Would you be just as concerned for the potential infringement of other rights? I think the underlying problem with your position is you don't think the risks brought by coronavirus justify that type of response. I think that's a different issue than the argument you're making here, which, with all due respect, is a bit of a slippery slope.

            These are the difficult philosophical questions that have plagued us for eternity. And you know as well as I do that no one can answer them. Was it right that we imprisoned innocent Japanese-Americans in concentration camps during WW2? Obviously not. Was it right that we repurposed private factories towards war material? Ya, probably. Both were considered "for the greater good of society".

            Obviously if the virus killed one in every two people that would be an apocalyptic situation. Same with a 25% death rate. And we keep rolling that backwards until we find our acceptable casualty rate. What percentage is acceptable? What percentage is an emergency? Is it 5%? Is it 1%? I can't answer that. You can't answer that. How many people are we willing to let die in order to maintain society? We have made that decision with the flu, strep throat, whatever other annual illness has a percentage of deaths associated with it.

            Obviously, when the public grants the government excess powers, they will need to stay attentive and politically active in order to prevent abuse of those powers. For that reason, I understand the concern.

            North Americans haven't shown an ability to hold their government officials accountable in half a century, so you will understand I have a certain trepidation about this answer.

            5 votes
        2. [4]
          moonbathers
          Link Parent
          Are you arguing people who've tested positive should be free to go out and infect others? Nothing is absolute. The words "rights" and "freedoms" are meaningless. One person's freedom of movement...

          Are you arguing people who've tested positive should be free to go out and infect others? Nothing is absolute. The words "rights" and "freedoms" are meaningless. One person's freedom of movement currently infringes on one's right to not be infected with a virus that causes permanent lung damage. We're in the situation we are right now, with 26,000 cases in the United States and counting, because the regime didn't act quickly enough. If the regime hadn't gutted our pandemic response team, if we had acted more quickly and infringed on a hundred people's freedom of movement temporarily, we wouldn't be in this mess. Thousands of people are going to die because of our country's ridiculous devotion to a bastardized "freedom" where you can do whatever you want and endanger others, fuck the consequences.

          We know when the emergency is over when hospitals aren't over capacity and the number of new confirmed cases starts going down. That will happen no matter what response the government has.

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            Loire
            Link Parent
            There is no right to be free from infection (and please be aware that I believe healthcare is/should be a fundamental civil right). There is no way anyone can provide the freedom from infection,...

            One person's freedom of movement currently infringes on one's right to not be infected with a virus

            There is no right to be free from infection (and please be aware that I believe healthcare is/should be a fundamental civil right). There is no way anyone can provide the freedom from infection, it's currently impossible. Do you have a right to not be infected with a cold?

            We're in the situation we are right now, with 26,000 cases in the United States and counting, because the regime didn't act quickly enough. If the regime hadn't gutted our pandemic response team, if we had acted more quickly and infringed on a hundred people's freedom of movement temporarily, we wouldn't be in this mess. Thousands of people are going to die because of our country's ridiculous devotion to a bastardized "freedom" where you can do whatever you want and endanger others, fuck the consequences.

            These do not follow. Trump gutting the CDC and associated bodies has nothing to so with American concepts of freedom. It has nothing to do with the liberal democratic concepts of rights and freedoms.

            We know when the emergency is over when hospitals aren't over capacity and the number of new confirmed cases starts going down. That will happen no matter what response the government has.

            And if this becomes a seasonal virus like the flu? If the infection rate spikes every fall? Then what?

            You don't seem to understand that it's not up to you and I to end the emergency. What we know doesn't matter. Once the door is open the abuse of power isn't up to us. It's up to the good graces of the government to end the state of emergency. They can make any argument they want to maintain a state of emergency as long as they want.

            3 votes
            1. [2]
              moonbathers
              Link Parent
              We should all have the right to go outside and assume that random people we walk by haven't tested positive and are disregarding all decency. It's the same thing with pollution; we all have the...

              There is no right to be free from infection (and please be aware that I believe healthcare is/should be a fundamental civil right). There is no way anyone can provide the freedom from infection, it's currently impossible. Do you have a right to not be infected with a cold?

              We should all have the right to go outside and assume that random people we walk by haven't tested positive and are disregarding all decency. It's the same thing with pollution; we all have the right to have breathable air and drinkable tap water in our homes, it's just been ignored for the entire industrial revolution.

              And if this becomes a seasonal virus like the flu? If the infection rate spikes every fall? Then what?

              We'll probably have a vaccine at some point. I would be surprised if this blows over by this fall, and current estimates say it'll be a year and a half until we have a vaccine which would be right in time for next fall.

              You don't seem to understand that it's not up to you and I to end the emergency. What we know doesn't matter. Once the door is open the abuse of power isn't up to us. It's up to the good graces of the government to end the state of emergency. They can make any argument they want to maintain a state of emergency as long as they want.

              Quit being patronizing. First you call me scared, then you say "I told you so" at the top of this thread, now this. You assume I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm aware of the slippery slope argument. We can and do draw lines for these sort of things. I have never once argued for suspending habeas corpus like the regime is currently trying to do. All I have advocated for since that first thread last week or whenever it was was some sort of travel restriction, and not even a really strict one. What do you even think that looks like? The government doesn't have the resources to put dystopian-style checkpoints everywhere. It would look like most domestic flights being grounded.

              If this regime becomes a dictatorship, travel restrictions won't even be a footnote in the list of reasons why they got there. Grounding flights and even some enforcement of people staying inside is nothing compared to voter suppression, asking for and getting foreign help with propaganda and money, encouraging racism among the base, and having a cult-like devotion to the Dear Leader. You could make that argument about any sort of restriction the government makes. Are speed limits infringing on our freedoms?

              5 votes
              1. Loire
                Link Parent
                Addressed this in the previous thread.

                Are speed limits infringing on our freedoms?

                Addressed this in the previous thread.

  2. patience_limited
    Link
    Apparently, suspension of habeas corpus isn't the only Constitutional problem we're facing. Both the Supreme Court and Congress are, by law, expected to meet in person to decide or legislate, and...

    Apparently, suspension of habeas corpus isn't the only Constitutional problem we're facing. Both the Supreme Court and Congress are, by law, expected to meet in person to decide or legislate, and there's no Federal emergency succession plan for these offices.

    6 votes
  3. Macil
    Link
    Are there not existing laws/procedures for enforcing quarantine? Surely the government already has the ability to quarantine people in pandemics? Or is this a necessary step to that?

    Are there not existing laws/procedures for enforcing quarantine? Surely the government already has the ability to quarantine people in pandemics? Or is this a necessary step to that?

    1 vote
  4. [3]
    bleem
    (edited )
    Link
    yep edit: for anyone doubting what is going on. go watch v for vendetta . this is following i think iirc the same play book. don't go around in a stupid guy fawkes' mask

    The Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies

    yep

    edit: for anyone doubting what is going on. go watch v for vendetta . this is following i think iirc the same play book. don't go around in a stupid guy fawkes' mask

    3 votes
  5. Kuromantis
    Link
    This is around the point where things go from 'illiberal/unstable democracy i.e Poland' to 'seriously authoritarian state i.e Turkey or Russia'. I hope my democracy (Brazil) lasts longer than yours.

    This is around the point where things go from 'illiberal/unstable democracy i.e Poland' to 'seriously authoritarian state i.e Turkey or Russia'. I hope my democracy (Brazil) lasts longer than yours.