A constitutional expert has written a column warning of the surging return in America to the 1950s “blacklisting” practices used against those who were Communist, suspected of being Communist, or even having had lunch once with a Communist.
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said in his online column that the problem is that courts and judges seem to be weighing “political views” when they decide cases these days.
“While raising such concerns inevitably brings out an Internet mob and accusations of being a ‘fellow traveler,’ free speech often demands the protection of the least popular individuals in our society,” Turley wrote. “Many of those who long denounced the censorship of suspected Communists in the 1950s now support censorship or blacklisting of individuals on the right.”
He said the problem appeared in a recent case involving Doug Jensen, one of those arrested for rioting in the Capitol on Jan. 6.
He was rearrested and jailed for “listening to an online speech by Trump supporter and pillow magnate Mike Lindell,” he pointed out.
Actually, that was a violation of his conditions of bail, so he deserved to go back behind bars, Turley noted.
But the case “raises a concern about the conditions placed on bail by courts and the message that ‘rehabilitation’ or remorse can be convincingly shown only by denouncing past political viewpoints or association,” he said.
Of the 570 people arrested after the riot, the Department of Justice found no evidence of insurrection, although there were a few accused of conspiring to do vandalism.
“Jensen was one of the best-known figures, pictured standing before police with his arms spread wide wearing a QAnon T-shirt emblazoned with an eagle,” Turley explained, and faced seven counts mostly for trespassing and unlawfully entering the building.
A single count alleges “assaulting, resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating, or interfering” with police.
He was granted bail – after six months – by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, who reportedly was “not inclined” to release Jensen but eventually allowed that “because the accused man renounced his prior political views and said he was deceived by ‘a pack of lies,'” Turley said.'”
Other Jan. 6 defendants are being given the same treatment, release if they “renounce” their beliefs.
“The concern, however, is that courts increasingly demand political reform as a prerequisite for bail or more favorable sentencing. The ‘close call’ for Judge Kelly was resolved by Jensen denouncing those, such as former President Trump, who accused Democrats of stealing the 2020 presidential election,” Turley wrote. “Kelly made clear that, if Jensen did not renounce the views of figures like Lindell and Trump, he would be left to wallow in jail.”
The agenda isn’t new, he said.
“In the 1950s, liberal writers, unionists and others were pulled before Congress to state whether they were or ever had been communists. The very status of ‘fellow traveler’ was enough to be blacklisted, investigated, even arrested. When Sen. Joe McCarthy waived his list of ‘known communists,’ he was identifying not just ‘card-carrying members’ but those ‘loyal to the Communist Party.'”
The result, he explained, is a “thought crime.
He cited a similar controversy in the United Kingdom, with a man arrested for his “ideology.”
“The focus of the Jan. 6 cases is the riot itself. I would have the same objection to courts demanding that arrested Black Lives Matter (BLM) or antifa followers renounce their views as a condition of bail. Hundreds were arrested over the past year in violent rioting, including pre-planned attacks to take over or torch city halls, police stations and courthouses. It would be outrageous for courts to demand that BLM or antifa supporters not listen to these political movements or related political figures. They were arrested for arson and rioting, not holding ‘toxic ideologies.'” he said.
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