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The Department of Justice has filed a brief on Thursday on behalf of baker, Jack Phillips.
Phillips was found to have violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws after he refused to bake a cake for Charlie Craig’s and David Mullin’s “wedding” in 2012. Phillips had argued that baking a cake for gay wedding violated his religious beliefs.
The Justice Department has concurred, stating that the cakes he produces constitute a form of expression and that he should not be compelled to use his talents to express support for something he does not believe in. Acting Solicitor General, wrote in the legal brief:
“Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has responded to the move by calling it “shocking.” Similarly, Democratic Senator for California, Kamala Harris, tweeted:
“Shame on the Justice Department for siding with discrimination. It has no place in our society.”
It is refreshing to see a Justice Department that is committed to protecting both free markets and the religious liberties of the American people. For too long, the gay rights lobby has been able to intimidate those who do not share their views. This decision represents a Justice Department and an administration that is committed to protecting everyone’s rights and liberties, not just the imaginary rights of an outspoken minority.
Americans are recoiling from the tragic events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday. The tragic succession of events, which saw violence between the Unite the Right protesters and counter-protesters and culminated in a vicious car attack, left nineteen people injured and thirty-two-year-old Heather Heyer dead.
On Monday, President Trump bowed to pressure to name and shame those whose ideology inspired yesterday’s hate crime. Trump stated:
“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.”
Political reactions have been swift and damning. Michael McCaul, Republican Congressman from Texas and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, tweeted:
“We must condemn the hate fueling the violence in #Charlottesville. It does not define us as Americans. Those affected are in my prayers.”
Republican Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, meanwhile, has called for the Department of Justice to investigate the events of Charlottesville as an act of domestic terrorism. Cruz stated:
“It’s tragic and heartbreaking to see hatred and racism once again mar our great Nation with bloodshed. Heidi’s and my prayers are with the loved ones of those killed and injured in the ongoing violence in Charlottesville. The First Amendment protects the rights of all Americans to speak their minds peaceably, but violence, brutality, and murder have no place in a civilized society. The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that they propagate. Having watched the horrifying video of the car deliberately crashing into a crowd of protesters, I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism.”
At a press conference on Monday, Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas claims police had planned to move the Unite the Right protesters to the rear of Emancipation park. The protesters had originally agreed to cooperate with police. However, police were forced to alter their plans when protesters began entering the park at different locations.
The perpetrator of the attack, James Alex Fields, Jr., a self-confessed admirer of Adolf Hitler, has been charged with second-degree murder, malicious wounding, and failure to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in death. He has been denied bail.
On July 26th, the FBI raided Paul Manafort’s home in Alexandra, Virginia. The FBI seized documents and other materials from Manafort’s home in relation to the Russia investigation.
However, there are clearly questions that the FBI felt still needed to be answered. According to Politico, Federal Investigators approached Manfort’s son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai, in an attempt to get inside his head.
Peter Zeidenburg, a former prosecutor for the Justice Department, commented:
“It is a big deal. Prosecutors do not take aggressive steps like this with subjects who the government feels are being open and cooperative. And they also do not do this to ‘send a message.’ They do it because they think there is evidence to be found and that if they do not act aggressively, it could be destroyed.”
The simple fact is that obtaining a search warrant usually requires investigators to have a rational reason to believe that there is evidence of a crime. Nor does the FBI execute warrants on cooperating witnesses, they don’t need to. What the investigation will prove cannot be known. Nevertheless, the President Trump’s Administration has cause for concern.