Conservatives: You also have FIRST Amendment right not to testify!
For roughly two years, the FBI, U.S. Department of Justice, and New Jersey's attorney general have promoted the Big Lie that "right-wing extremists" and "white supremacists" are the biggest threat to national security in America today. They recklessly pin those labels on anyone who openly opposes or even disagrees with the radical-left, socialist, "progressive" agenda of "woke" Democrats.
They are also misusing the criminal justice system to silence, intimidate, and bully political opponents. A common method is for federal or state law enforcement agencies or legislative committees to question political opponents as part of some official "investigation."
Right now, they are busy "investigating" the protests, or riots, at the Capitol last January 6.
As with the Gestapo, the KGB, and agents of other repressive regimes, they are asking many repetitive and irrelevant questions of many people about many documents they have subpoenaed or seized. If anyone refuses to answer or supply documents, they bring criminal contempt charges. If there are discrepancies between any answer given and what is said by others or stated in documents, they prosecute "process crimes" like perjury or giving a false police report.
If they find embarrassing or politically useful information that is not criminal in any way, they leak it to the media or political opponents or make it part of the public record. That way they damage or destroy the reputations or political careers of political opponents.
YouTube screen grab.
What should you do if you or someone you know is summoned, subpoenaed, or questioned this way? First, consult with a lawyer. There are many tricks and nuances. There are also severe consequences for getting it wrong. Do not ever attempt to respond on your own. However, you should understand the basic constitutional principles involved.
Almost every American knows that the Fifth Amendment of our Constitution protects our right not to answer questions that may incriminate ourselves — the constitutional right to remain silent. It clearly states: "No person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself."
However, the First Amendment also applies. That First Amendment for the federal government and the Fourteenth Amendment for the states protect our "freedom of speech" and our right "peaceably to assemble ... and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." During the past seventy years, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that those basic rights imply that we have other basic rights as well.
We also have rights to seek out others, and communicate, associate, and organize with them to promote our ideas. Those rights are infringed if the government forces us to disclose who they are, or our private conversations and communications with them. This is especially true when we and our ideas are routinely distorted and demonized by an evil and biased media establishment.
In NAACP v. Patterson, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the State of Alabama could not force the NAACP to give its membership information to state officials. "Immunity from state scrutiny of petitioner's membership lists is here so related to the right of petitioner's members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in doing so, as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment."
In Watkins v. United States and Deutch v. United States, defendants appeared before subcommittees of Congress in 1954 and answered questions concerning their own participation in communist activities. However, they refused to answer questions asking for the names of others who were involved. Both claimed that those questions "were outside of the proper scope of the Committee's activities, and not relevant to its work." The U.S. Supreme Court agreed and dismissed both prosecutions. In United States of America, Appellee, v. Peter Seeger, Defendant-appellant, a U.S. court of appeals dismissed similar charges against popular left-wing "folk singer" Pete Seeger.
As Democrats in Congress and various federal and state law enforcement agencies systematically use the January 6 protests to question hundreds of political opponents and seize or subpoena thousands of documents, it is important to remember why and how the federal courts limited these methods some sixty years ago. Will courts today protect the rights of conservatives the way previous courts protected the rights of the left then?
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