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‘Exercising Religion Is Essential’: DOJ Supports Church’s Coronavirus Lawsuit Over Federal Warnings on Gatherings

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Claiming there is “no good reason for refusing to trust congregants,” Attorney General Bill Barr’s Dept. of Justice has filed a legal notice in federal court announcing it supports a Virginia church that violated Governor Ralph Northam’s executive order banning in-person religious gatherings of more than 10 people. A U.S. Attorney suggests the order constitutes “unlawful discrimination.”

The DOJ’s intervention goes against specific warnings the CDC, President Donald Trump, the Coronavirus Task Force, and the Dept. of Health and Human Services have issued to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic that to date has killed nearly 70,000 people in the U.S.

Barr has directed the U.S. Attorneys to specifically ensure religious rights are not affected during the pandemic, despite the fact that medical experts, the CDC, and even the White House warn gatherings of more than 10 people are dangerous to the public health.

On April 5 police issued a summons for the pastor of the Lighthouse Fellowship Church on Virginia’s Chincoteague Island. The church reportedly held services for 16 people in a 225-seat chapel. The pastor allegedly faces “jail time or a $2,500 fine,” according to Fox News. The church is represented by Liberty Counsel, a right wing Christian law firm that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-gay hate groups.

At a March White House press conference President Trump said, “avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people.”

The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America,” which appears on the White House website, also specifically says “avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.”

The CDC points to HHS guidance that advocates “virtual worship,” and in guidance specific to Seattle and other areas hit hard by the pandemic, the CDC directed “Every Community and Faith-based Organization” to “Move faith-based and community gatherings of any size to video-accessible venues or postpone/cancel.”

The Dept. of Justice is taking a far different stance.

“For many people of faith, exercising religion is essential, especially during a crisis,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division said in a DOJ statement.

“Unlawful discrimination against people who exercise their right to religion violates the First Amendment, whether we are in a pandemic or not,” Dreiband also says,

“The Commonwealth of Virginia has offered no good reason for refusing to trust congregants who promise to use care in worship in the same way it trusts accountants, lawyers, and other workers to do the same. The U.S. Department of Justice will continue to monitor any infringement of the Constitution and other civil liberties, and we will take additional appropriate action if and when necessary.”

 

 

 

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Legal Experts and Critics Slam Justice Clarence Thomas for ‘Speaking Out Against Something He Is Actively Doing’

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Critics are  observing Constitution Day by responding to remarks U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made on Thursday, when he blasted the media for criticizing decisions from the nation’s highest court and warning federal judges to not wade in to political discussions.

“When we begin to venture into the legislative or executive branch lanes, those of us, particularly in the federal judiciary with lifetime appointments, are asking for trouble,” Justice Thomas said, CNN’s Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue reports, ironically observing that Justice Thomas made those remarks “during a sweeping lecture at the University of Notre Dame that also touched on themes of equality, race and the state of the country.”

The CNN report adds:

Of all the members of the high court, Thomas has made his views on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion across the US, crystal clear. In 2007, he said that he believed that Roe and the follow-up decision called Planned Parenthood v. Casey had “no basis in the Constitution.” And in 2020, he said that Roe is “grievously wrong for many reasons, but the most fundamental is that its core holding — that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to abort her unborn child — finds no support in the text of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Thomas also on Thursday “seemed to nod to the controversy” of “so-called court packing”:

“We have lost the capacity” as leaders “to not allow others to manipulate our institutions when we don’t get the outcomes that we like,” he said.

Critics, including legal experts are weighing on on Justice Thomas’s remarks, blasting him for, as Daily Beast editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast says, “speaking out against something he is actively doing.”

Related: Justice Clarence Thomas Has Been Secretly Lobbying Senators to Get a Trump Judicial Nominee Confirmed

Keith Boykin, a CNN political commentator who earned his law degree at Harvard and served in the Clinton White House was even more pointed:

“Clarence Thomas didn’t seem too worried about ‘destroying our institutions’ when he cast the deciding vote to make Bush president in 2000 or to gut the Voting Rights Act in 2013 or when he sat silently from 2017-2021 as Trump trashed our institutions.”

Dr. Miranda Yaver, a political science professor (US law, public policy, health policy) at Oberlin blasted Justice Thomas, saying that “claiming that the Supreme Court isn’t political is nonsense and we all know it. FWIW, whenever I teach Constitutional Law and students go, ‘Who in the hell would write that opinion??’ the answer is invariably Clarence Thomas.”

Norman Ornstein, a political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), laughed:

VOX senior correspondent Ian Millhiser, author of “The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court is Reshaping America,” also criticizes Thomas’s apparent hypocrisy:

RELATED:

Clarence Thomas’ Wife Is Helping Trump Purge ‘Snakes’ From the White House — and Replace Them With Fox News Regulars

Clarence Thomas: Slavery Didn’t Take Away Dignity So How Can Same-Sex Marriage Bestow It?

 

 

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Sarah Palin Proudly Declares Herself a ‘White Common Sense Conservative’ – and Unvaccinated

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Sarah Palin is back on TV. At least, she was Thursday night, on Fox News’ late night political satire show “Gutfeld!” where she announced she is not vaccinated and proudly explained why – basically getting the science wrong by leaving out important scientific findings.

“I am one of those white common sense conservatives,” Palin told host Greg Gurfeld and guest Dr. Drew Pinsky. “I believe in science and I have not taken the shot.”

“One, because the waitress never came back to ask me,” she said sarcastically, “because I do believe in science. And the Fauci-ism of the day back then was if you had COVID – I’ve had COVID – well then Mother Nature was creating an immunity and, and even today they say you know you’re 27 percent more immune.”

Dr. Drew chimed in to claim it’s “27 times” more immune.

But both are getting the science wrong – by not telling the whole story.

The highly-respected journal Science last month published an article making very clear why Palin is wrong in its title: “Having SARS-CoV-2 once confers much greater immunity than a vaccine—but vaccination remains vital.”

And while it states up front that “Israelis who had an infection were more protected against the Delta coronavirus variant than those who had an already highly effective COVID-19 vaccine,” it adds this critical information: Unvaccinated COVID survivors are more likely to contract the deadly disease again than those who have had COVID and just one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Researchers, Science reports, “compared more than 14,000 people who had a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and were still unvaccinated with an equivalent number of previously infected people who received one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The team found that the unvaccinated group was twice as likely to be reinfected as the singly vaccinated.”

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29 Months Later Bill Barr’s Super Secret Russia Special Counsel Files His Second Indictment – for Alleged Lying

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In April of 2019 then-Attorney General Bill Barr ordered the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut to open and lead an investigation into Russia – not into how Russia has been attacking the United States via cyber warfare, undermining Americans’ trust in American institutions, and using social media to do it, but into whether or not the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been warranted in opening an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, including its investigation of Donald Trump.

On Thursday, 29 months after Barr first appointed John Durham (photo, right) to lead that super-secret investigation, 11 months after Barr secretly turned Durham into a special counsel to ensure the investigation would continue past his and Trump’s tenure, and after spending untold millions of taxpayer dollars, the Dept. of Justice has announced Durham has obtained a second indictment.

“A prominent cybersecurity lawyer was indicted on a charge of lying to the F.B.I. five years ago during a meeting about Donald J. Trump and Russia, the Justice Department announced on Thursday,” The New York Times reports.

The lawyer, Michael Sussmann, “of the law firm Perkins Coie, which has deep ties to the Democratic Party — is accused of making a false statement about his client at the meeting.”

Mr. Sussmann’s defense lawyers have denied the accusation, saying that he did not make a false statement, that the evidence he did is weak and that who he was representing was not a material fact in any case. They have vowed to fight any charge in court.

At issue is who was Sussman working for when he “relayed concerns by cybersecurity researchers who believed that unusual internet data might be evidence of a covert communications channel between computer servers associated with the Trump Organization and with Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked Russian financial institution.”

Apparently not at issue is if the Trump Organization or campaign had a secret communications channel to a Kremlin-linked organization.

Frequent viewers of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow are likely familiar with her reporting on Alfa Bank, including this segment from October 2018:

Durham has not obtained any indictment against anyone in Russia, any Russian operatives, any Trump Organization or campaign official, or anyone who may have been involved in Russia’s attack on the United States.

The only other indictment Durham has obtained from his two-plus year investigation? The Times in 2019 reported on a “low-level” FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, who “altered an email that officials used to prepare to seek court approval to renew the wiretap,” on Carter Page, a Trump campaign advisor.

One expert calls the indictment “weak.”

 

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