Trump’s Justice Department Proposes Indefinite Detention in Emergencies—Like the Coronavirus Outbreak

“This isn’t how America is supposed to work.”

Mark Wilson/Getty

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As part of proposed legislation being pushed in response to the coronavirus, Trump’s Justice Department has asked Congress to allow the indefinite detention of people during emergencies, according to a Politico report published Saturday. 

It’s not likely the House’s Democratic majority will support this proposal, which would give federal judges the authority to pause court proceedings at virtually any stage of a civil or criminal proceeding—even preceding a trial. 

“That means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over,” warns Normal Reimer, the director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “I find it absolutely terrifying. Especially in a time of emergency, we should be very careful about granting new powers to the government.”

As the coronavirus crisis has spread across the United States, President Trump has repeatedly vowed to use “the full power of the Federal Government” to respond, leading some critics to fear overreach by an executive branch already prone to ignoring congressional subpoenas and other checks and balances. Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst, blasted the proposal.

“Can you imagine being arrested and not brought before a judge indefinitely?” he wrote. “This isn’t how America is supposed to work.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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