ACLU: DOJ Plan ‘Transparent Attempt to Grab Power’

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Justice Department scenarios to hold inmates longer than normal because of delayed court hearings amid the coronavirus epidemic suggest that Attorney General William Barr will not be content to let operations lapse and defendants go free as more court operations are shuttered amid the intensifying public health crisis, the Washington Post reports. Appearing Monday at the White House’s coronavirus briefing, Barr said his department was keeping enforcement efforts “at full throttle.” Jeffery Robinson of the American Civil Liberties Union called the DOJ proposal “a transparent attempt to grab power and make it easier for the government to wield its authority.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said, “Courts are closing and grand juries are not meeting. That means prosecutors may not be able to indict criminals before a statute of limitations expires, or dangerous criminals who have been arrested may be released because of time limits. Criminals should not be able to avoid justice because of a public-health emergency.” Barr announced Monday that DOJ is taking steps to target those hoarding medical supplies on an industrial scale in an attempt to rig markets and reap huge profits. Barr directed each U.S. Attorney to assign a lead prosecutor to investigate such conduct and related price-gouging, and they were already finding some evidence of it.

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