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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Cops Called After COVID-Positive Palin’s Dinner Partner Allegedly Accosts Photographer
Sarah Palin, who is unvaccinated and recently tested positive for COVID-19 three times, was caught dining out in New York City Wednesday evening. A credentialed news photographer was reportedly accosted after he asked her dining companions if they were “concerned” the Republican former governor “tested positive for COVID.”
One man stood up, walked over to the photographer, and according to the website Upper East Site, “roughed up a news photographer filming them dining outdoors.”
Palin, who is in NYC for her defamation case against The New York Times, waved at the photographer, but one of her dinner companions got up and repeatedly asked the journalist, “Are you looking for trouble?” as the video below shows.
“Are you going to hurt –?” the photographer replied, but then the camera shakes as if it had been knocked down, and the video ends.
“The unidentified, large man dining with Palin grabbed the victim’s fingers with both hands, wrenching and twisting them down, slamming the camera to the concrete, the photographer told Upper East Site.”
Police were called and an assault report was filed, Upper East Site reports.
Looks like Sarah Palin’s dinner date wasn’t happy about being filmed. pic.twitter.com/sM8JSBSIZJ
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) January 28, 2022
Read the entire story here.
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license
Josh Hawley’s ‘Losing Fight’ Against Biden’s Supreme Court Nominee Mocked by Conservative Strategist
Republicans will be making a political mistake if they seek to go all-in against President Joe Biden’s nomination to replace Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court, a top GOP strategist explained on Friday.
Former George W. Bush White House speechwriter Marc Thiessen wrote in The Washington Post that “while Biden now gets to pick a justice, he is powerless to change the court’s ideological makeup.”
“The truth is, while every Supreme Court appointment is consequential, this will be the least consequential appointment in decades. So, Republicans should be gracious in victory, and let Democrats have their day,” he counseled.
His advice runs contrary to the approach of one GOP senator.
“Already, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is warning that if Biden “chooses to nominate a left wing activist who will bless his campaign against parents, his abuse of the FBI, his refusal to enforce our immigration laws, and his lawless vaccine mandates, expect a major battle in the Senate.” Here’s a better idea: Unless Biden appoints someone obviously unqualified, don’t pick a losing fight,” he wrote. “After all, the confirmation of Biden’s nominee is virtually assured. Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have supported all of Biden’s judicial nominees, and it is difficult to imagine that they will treat this one differently.”
He urged Republican senators to treat the nominee “graciously.”
Read the full column.
Palm Beach Lawmaker Sues Local Paper Over Attempt to Access Jeffrey Epstein Records
The Palm Beach Post is reporting that the local County Clerk of the Courts is asking the courts to make the paper pay the legal fees he incurred while blocking attempts to access grand jury records related to a 2006 Jeffrey Epstein investigation.
Getting right to the point, the Post’s Jane Musgrave wrote, “Despite insisting he wants the public to know why serial molester Jeffrey Epstein escaped serious punishment 15 years ago, Palm Beach County Clerk of Courts Joe Abruzzo wants to punish The Palm Beach Post for trying to open secret records that could do just that.”
As the report notes, Abruzzo employed the Tampa law firm belonging to Shane Vogt to fight the request at a cost of $32,794 and, in a motion before Circuit Judge Donald Hafele, seeks double that plus additional costs.
At issue are the grand jury transcripts that the Florida lawmaker successfully kept away from the paper.
Explaining the Post’s case, Musgrave wrote, “The newspaper went to court after records showed only one teen was called to testify to the grand jury even though dozens told police Epstein sexually abused them at his Palm Beach mansion.”
“Further, sources familiar with the grand jury proceedings said the 14-year-old girl was vilified by state prosecutors,” she added. “Rather than focus on her claims of abuse, lieutenants for then-State Attorney Barry Krischer quizzed her about her online social media posts where she talked about drinking and boys, they said.”
The report continued, “In court papers, The Post’s attorneys argued that releasing the records would reveal what happened and whether Krischer bowed to pressure from Epstein’s high-octane defense team.”
You can read more here.
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