All public forums should be open and uncensored

A US District Court judge has ruled that President Trump may not block even rude or obnoxious criticism from his Twitter account, because it is a public forum that is protected by the First Amendment. The Justice Department says it might appeal, but I argue that the DOJ, White House and Trump Administration should instead embrace the decision, expand on it, and apply these legal principles and free speech guidelines to other arenas.

After all, with the multitude of race, sexual orientation and other civil rights now protected by force of law, shouldn’t arguably the most vital and fundamental civil right also be protected? The right of free speech and free assembly, especially regarding one’s beliefs, interests and political viewpoints, and one’s ability to participate in discourse over important political and public policy matters?!?

Thank you for posting my provocative article, quoting from it, and forwarding it to your friends and colleagues.

Best regards,

Paul

All public forums should be open and uncensored

Trump should embrace (and expand) court ruling that his Twitter account is free speech forum

President Trump may not block even rude or obnoxious criticism from his Twitter account, because it is a public forum that is protected by the First Amendment, US District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald has ruled. The President’s use of his Twitter account to comment on important policy, personnel and personal announcements made it a public forum, akin to a park or town square, she concluded.

Blocking unwanted tweets is thus viewpoint discrimination, which public officials are not permitted to engage in. Indeed, his Twitter account is not just a public forum. It is also “government space,” and thus may not be closed off, Judge Buchwald continued – rejecting a Justice Department argument that, since Twitter is a public company, it is beyond the reach of First Amendment public forum rules.

Free speech proponents hailed the ruling as a groundbreaking decision, saying it expands constitutional protections deep within the realms of social media. The executive director of Georgetown Law School’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection called it “a critical victory in preserving free speech in the digital age.” Blocking people from responding critically to presidential tweets is unconstitutional, because it prevents them from participating personally and directly in that forum, others said.

The Justice Department said it disagreed with the decision and was considering its next steps. Here’s another option: Embrace and expand on the decision. Assess how these District Court principles and free speech guidelines can be applied in other vital free speech arenas. Take it as far as you can.

Some will then predictably want to construe the decision narrowly, saying it applies only to government officials, perhaps especially conservatives who support this president. Conservatives, the White House and the Trump Administration should not feel bound by such partisan, self-serving assertions.

As Supreme Court and numerous lower court decisions have interpreted the Civil Rights Act and other laws, no person may employ race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability status or other categories, to discriminate in admissions, hiring or anything else under any program or activity receiving any form of federal financial assistance, including loans or scholarships. Those that do discriminate will lose their Internal Revenue Service non-profit status and their government funding.

Should that list of categories not include one of the most vital and fundamental civil rights of all – the one addressed and protected by the very first amendment to the United States Constitution? The right of free speech and free assembly, especially regarding one’s beliefs, interests and political viewpoints, and one’s ability to participate in discourse and debate over important political and public policy matters?

Our colleges and universities were once society’s crucible for developing and thrashing out ideas. Sadly, as anyone with a milligram of brain matter realizes, they have become bastions of one-sided ideological propaganda and intolerance. Every conceivable element of “diversity” is permitted and encouraged – nay, demanded – except for our most fundamental civil right of personal views, free speech and robust debate.

That right now applies only to liberal-progressive-leftist views and ideologies. Anything that challenges or questions those teachings is vilified, denounced and silenced, often violently – as being hurtful, hateful, objectionable or intolerable to liberals. Faculty members are hired, protected, promoted or fired based on their social, scientific or political beliefs. Viewpoint discrimination, bullying and mobbing are rampant.

It’s time for pushback. Judicial and Executive Branch decisions and guidelines hold that even private universities that receive federal money for faculty research, student loans and scholarships, or campus facilities, are subject to Civil Rights Act rules. Presidents, administrators and faculty members of public universities are arguably public officials. Campuses and classrooms are clearly public forums.

If they tolerate or encourage viewpoint bullying, mobbing or violence, they are violating the civil rights of students, professors and speakers whose views have been deemed inappropriate, discomforting, hurtful or intolerable to the fragile sensitivities of climate alarmist, pro-abortion, atheist and other liberal factions.

Judge Buchwald’s ruling and the reactions of free speech advocates provide useful guidelines to buttress this approach. The Trump Administration, state attorneys general and free-speech/individual rights advocates should apply them to help restore intellectual rigor and open discourse to our campuses.

The ruling and reactions could also help expand constitutional protections even more deeply in the realms of digital age social media. As they suggest, today’s most popular social media sites have become our most vibrant and essential public forums: today’s parks, town squares and town halls. People, especially millennials, rely on them for news, information and opinions, often as substitutes for print, radio and television (and classrooms). But they now seem far better at censorship than at education or discussion.

Google algorithms increasingly and systematically send climate realism articles to intellectual Siberia. Unless you enter very specific search terms (author’s name, article title and unique wording), those sly algorithms make it difficult or impossible to find articles expressing non-alarmist viewpoints.

Google thus allies with the manmade climate cataclysm establishment – which has received billions of taxpayer dollars from multiple government agencies, but has blocked Climate Armageddon skeptics from getting articles published in scientific journals that often publish papers that involve hidden data, computer codes and other work. Even worse, it facilitates repeated threats that skeptics should be jailed (Bill Nye the Science Guy and RFK Jr.), prosecuted under RICO racketeering laws (Senators Warren and Whitehouse), or even executed (University of Graz, Austria Professor Richard Parncutt).

Google is a private entity, there are other search engines, and those seeking complete, honest research results should see if those alternatives are any better. But there is something repugnant about mankind’s vast storehouses of information being controlled by hyper-partisan techies, in league with equally partisan university, deep state, deep media, hard green and other über-liberal, intolerant elements of our society.

Meanwhile, Google YouTube continues to use its power and position to block posting of and access to equally important information, including over 40 well-crafted, informative, carefully researched Prager University videos – because they contain what YouTube reviewers (censors) decreed is “objectionable content” on current events, history, constitutional principles, environmental topics and public policies.

Scholar-educator Dennis Prager sued YouTube for closing down yet another vital public forum to views that question, contest or simply fail to pay homage to liberal ideologies and agendas.

District Court Judge Lucy Koh concluded that YouTube did indeed apply vague standards and the arbitrary judgments of a few employees, and did indeed discriminate against Prager U by denying it access to this popular social media platform and digital public forum. However, she ruled that Google YouTube is a private company, and thus is under no obligation to be fair, to apply its services equally, or to refrain from imposing penalties on viewpoints with which its partisan officers and employees disagree.

In other words, YouTube may operate as a public forum but it is a private business and thus may discriminate as it wishes – since it does not bake cakes or provide food or overnight accommodations … or deal with any civil rights that Judge Koh would include among protected constitutional rights.

These actions are the hallmarks of communist, fascist and other totalitarian regimes that seek to control all thought, speech, economic activity and other aspects of our lives. They drive policies that further limit our freedoms, kill countless jobs, and cost us billions or trillions of dollars in lost productivity.

The Left is clearly afraid of conservative ideas and principles. It refuses to participate in discussions or debates that it might lose, and instead resorts to mobbing, bullying and violence to silence our voices.

Up to now, lower courts have not always been supportive of the analysis and prescriptions presented in this article. But appellate courts and the Supreme Court have yet to weigh in on the Trump Twitter, Prager YouTube, Google search bias and similar cases. So we are still in uncharted territory.

Conservatives, climate chaos skeptics and true free speech advocates should build their own social media forums – while helping to create the legal precedents that will protect our hard-won rights and freedoms, and exposing, ridiculing, embarrassing and challenging the dominance of the Intolerant Left.

Paul Driessen, JD is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy and environmental science and policy.

DOJ Appoints U.S. Attorney John Lausch to Oversee FBI Document Production

Last week, reports emerged that the Justice Department had failed to meet a deadline requiring the agency to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee in response to a March 22 subpoena issued by Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA).

According to the Washington Examiner, the subpoena sought “Information on a variety of matters, including the documents concerning the investigation of Clinton’s private email server in 2016, possible abuses pertaining to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommendation that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe be fired.”

However, the DOJ failed to turn over the subpoenaed documents on the required date, despite FBI Director Wray acknowledging that the production rate for documents was too slow, and the FBI doubling the number of staff dedicated to review of the documents from 27 to 54. According to Chairman Goodlatte (VA), to date, the committee has received, “only a few thousand of the 1.2 million documents provided to the Inspector General.”

On Saturday President Trump voiced his concerns with the slow-walking process, in a series of tweets, “Lawmakers of the House Judiciary Committee are angrily accusing the Department of Justice of missing the Thursday Deadline for turning over UNREDACTED Documents relating to FISA abuse, FBI, Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more. Slow walking – what is going on? BAD!”

Donald J. Trump on Twitter

Lawmakers of the House Judiciary Committee are angrily accusing the Department of Justice of missing the Thursday Deadline for turning over UNREDACTED Documents relating to FISA abuse, FBI, Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more. Slow walking – what is going on? BAD!

This was followed by President Trump asking, “What does the Department of Justice and FBI have to hide? Why aren’t they giving the strongly requested documents (unredacted) to the HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE? Stalling, but for what reason? Not looking good!”

Donald J. Trump on Twitter

What does the Department of Justice and FBI have to hide? Why aren’t they giving the strongly requested documents (unredacted) to the HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE? Stalling, but for what reason? Not looking good!

In response to the continued slow-walking by the FBI, preventing the House Judiciary Committee from exercising proper congressional oversight, the DOJ announced on Monday that it had formally appointed U.S. Attorney John Lausch to oversee the production of documents to Congress.

The Chicago Tribune relates that, “Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray asked U.S. Attorney John Lausch, whom Trump picked to lead the U.S. attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois, over the weekend if he would supervise the Justice Department’s handing over of materials to Congress on the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, the investigation of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the firing of Andrew McCabe from the FBI.”

In a statement released by DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores, the Attorney General and FBI Director, “…understand the concerns of members of Congress and the president about the pace of production and level of redactions in the documents already received by the committee. They agree with that the Department and the FBI should accommodate the committee’s request in a timely fashion and in the fullest manner consistent with the department’s law enforcement and national security responsibilities.”

Additionally, Fox News reports that on Monday, the FBI would turn over an additional 3,600 pages to the House Judiciary Committee, but that the committee would not be given access to all documents initially turned over to DOJ Inspector General Horowitz.

The DOJ claimed that those documents being withheld from the committee include, “Grand jury material and classified information which must be redacted in order to preserve the integrity of other investigations and to avoid the appearance of political influence in criminal prosecutions.”

The DOJ notes that a separate request by Chairman Nunes (R-CA) of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence had been complied with in-part, but that the DOJ had not removed the remaining redactions in the document, as they “pertain to the identity of a foreign nation.”

Related: Obama DOJ: Handmaiden Of Clinton Corruption

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Spox and Office of DOJ Inspector General Release Statements

Did you know the DOJ has been investigating the FBI for 11 months…. wait, what? Hold-up on the criticism folks. Three important statements today from the DOJ, FBI and OIG indicate there have been ongoing investigations and reviews of conduct

DOJ Spox
Response to a letter I sent to Inspector General of DOJ earlier this year (add by phill separate from OP)

Source: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Spox and Office of DOJ Inspector General Release Statements

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks at Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City Award Presentation

Earlier: Attorney General Sessions Issues Charging and Sentencing Guidelines to Federal Prosecutors

 

Thank you, Ed [Mullins].  It’s an incredible honor to receive this recognition from the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City.  I am proud that the rank-and-file consider me a friend of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), and of all our nation’s brave law enforcement personnel.  You know how much I respect you and the ground-breaking work the NYPD has done to reduce violence in your city.  I have long expressed my admiration for your success.

 

There’s no doubt that the last few years have been tough times for law enforcement in America.  Morale among law enforcement has fallen.  Fatal shootings of officers went up last year.

 

Most Americans, however, know what I know.  Our police are one of the institutions that enjoys the highest confidence of the American public.  That’s because they see you every day on their streets and in their neighborhoods.

 

You don’t do this work for recognition, and you certainly don’t do it for the money.  You do it for the lives saved, the streets made safer, the bad guys brought to justice.  You chose this work to serve and protect us all, and make our country safer and better.  There is a sense of satisfaction from doing our duty to see that justice is done.

 

As we begin National Police Week, I want every law enforcement officer in America to know this:   We honor your service.  We remember the sacrifices of your brothers and sisters who have fallen in the line of duty.  And we are grateful for all you do to keep us safe.

 

We here at the Department of Justice will continue to remind all Americans what a noble calling this is – so other good people will also choose to answer it like you each did.

 

I would also encourage all Americans this week to find your own way to show your gratitude to the people of law enforcement.  Bring a home-cooked meal to your local precinct, go to a memorial service or simply shake the hand of a police officer and say, “Thank you for your service.”

Under President Trump, this Department of Justice will have your back.  We will do all that we can to keep you safe and to promote public support for honorable officers in your dangerous work.

 

I call on everyone to remember that it’s not our privileged communities that suffer the most from crime and violence.  Regardless of wealth or race, every American has the right to demand a safe neighborhood.

 

And we will do our part.  Today, I am announcing that I sent a memo to each of our U.S. Attorney’s last night establishing charging and sentencing policy for this Department of Justice.  Our responsibility is to fulfill our role in a way that accords with the law, advances public safety and promotes respect for and consistency in our legal system and the work you do.

 

Charging and sentencing recommendations are bedrock responsibilities for any federal prosecutor.  And I trust our prosecutors in the field to make good judgements.  They deserve not to be unhandcuffed and not micro-managed from Washington.   Rather, they must be permitted to apply the law to the facts of each investigation.  Let’s be clear, we are enforcing the laws Congress passed – that is both our fundamental mission and constitutional duty.

 

Going forward, I have empowered our prosecutors to charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.  It means we are going to meet our responsibility to enforce the law with judgment and fairness.  It is simply the right and moral thing to do.  But it is important to note that unlike previous charging memoranda, I have given our prosecutors discretion to avoid sentences that would result in an injustice.

 

This is a key part of President Trump’s promise to keep America safe.  We’re seeing an increase in violent crime in our cities – in Baltimore, Chicago, Memphis, Milwaukee, St. Louis and many others.  The murder rate has surged 10 percent nationwide – the largest increase since 1968.  And we know that drugs and crime go hand-in-hand.  Drug trafficking is an inherently violent business.  If you want to collect a drug debt, you can’t file a lawsuit in court.  You collect it by the barrel of a gun.

 

In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans died from a drug overdose.  According to a report by the New England Journal of Medicine, the price of heroin is down, the availability is up and the purity is up.  We intent to reverse that trend.  So we are returning to the enforcement of the law as passed by Congress – plain and simple.  If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way.  We will not be willfully blind to your conduct.  We are talking about a kilogram of heroin – that is 10,000 doses, five kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.  These are not low-level offenders.  These are drug dealers.  And you’re going to prison.

 

Working with integrity and professionalism, attorneys who implement this policy will meet the high standards required by the Department of Justice and together we will win this fight.

 

Once again, I thank all our brave men and women in law enforcement for your service.  And thanks again to you, Ed, and to the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City for this honor.

IGs ask Congress to Help after DOJ Restricts Access to Info

DOJ

Watchdogs assigned to root out fraud and corruption inside federal government agencies encounter so many barriers during their investigations that they’re calling on Congress to pass legislation that will guarantee the access they’re already supposed to have.

The cry comes on the heels of a new Justice Department restriction on information that its inspector general (IG) can access during agency probes. Remember that President Obama promised to run the most transparent administration in history yet the Department of Justice (DOJ), an extension of the executive office, is limiting what its watchdog can see during what’s supposed to be an independent investigation. This goes contrary to a 1978 law requiring that inspectors general act autonomously when they conduct probes of the federal agencies they’re assigned to keep in check.

This is hardly the case. In fact, Judicial Watch has reported for years about the obstacles that inspectors general have faced as they do their job to crack down on waste, fraud and corruption in government. There are 73 IGs and, although they report to Congress, each is appointed by the president. For years current and former employees at IG offices have alleged that the watchdogs work too closely with the leaders of the agencies they investigate and that many have succumbed to political pressure, in both Republican and Democrat administrations.

In fact, a few years ago a number of IGs came under fire and faced retaliation and scrutiny after exposing wrongdoing at the agencies they were charged with investigating. This led Congress to contemplate legislation to protect the watchdogs by, among other things, requiring the president to notify Congress 30 days before firing an inspector general to guard against terminations for political reasons. As is often the case in Washington, no action was taken to solve the matter so the problem persists.

Now IGs are calling on begging Congress to do its job and help. In a letter to lawmakers this month, the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, which represents the nation’s IGs, asks that legislation be passed to guarantee their independence when conducting probes at federal agencies. “Without timely and unfettered access to all necessary information, Inspectors General cannot ensure that all government programs and operations are subject to exacting and independent scrutiny,” the letter states. “Refusing, restricting, or delaying an Inspector General’s independent access may lead to incomplete, inaccurate, or significantly delayed findings and recommendations, which in turn may prevent the agency from promptly correcting serious problems and pursuing recoveries that benefit taxpayers, and deprive Congress of timely information regarding the agency’s activities. It also may impede or otherwise inhibit investigations and prosecutions related to agency programs and operations.”

The move comes after the DOJ’s legal counsel issued a ruling creating new limits on information that its watchdog can access during investigations of the agency, which has been embroiled in a number of scandals during the Obama administration. Under the new guidelines the DOJ’s IG can only obtain what may be considered “sensitive” information if DOJ officials in charge of the cases being probed give permission. In some instances permission could be granted but in others the information could be completely kept from the IG under the new rules, which were initially proposed by Obama’s first Attorney General, Eric Holder.

The Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency refers to the DOJ’s new policy in its letter to Congress, writing that it “sharply curtails the authority of the Inspector General for the Department of Justice (DOJ-IG) to independently access all records necessary to carry out its oversight responsibilities.” Furthermore, the IGs point out, it “represents a serious threat to the independent authority of not only the DOJ-IG but to all Inspectors General.” These watchdogs must have access, without delay, to all information and data in an agency’s possession that is deemed necessary to conduct oversight functions, the letter states.

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Source: JUDICIAL WATCH