Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. warned that U.S. leaders have potentially set an “ugly precedent” that hearkens back to the Civil War when President Lincoln was judicially admonished for suspending habeas corpus.
Kennedy told “The Ingraham Angle” during a discussion on the potential for external forces to press for a globalized, restrictive response to the next pandemic, that the U.S. should stand up against such a possibility.
“Those efforts already being made. But I’m not as worried about the [World Health Organization] as I am about our own government, because we’ve now established a precedent in this country — they suspended the First Amendment: religion; freedom of association when they did the lockdowns,” he said.
“[They restricted] freedom of speech. They banned jury trials against vaccine companies – that’s [a violation of] the Seventh Amendment. They abolished property rights [which violates the] Fifth Amendment [when] they closed 3.3 million businesses with no due process, no just compensation, although there was no pandemic exception in the United States Constitution…”
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Kennedy said that at no previous time in history was the Bill of Rights so collectively suspended as it had been during the coronavirus pandemic.
In states like Pennsylvania, New York, California, New Jersey and North Carolina, liberal Democratic governors forcibly shuttered businesses, and in the case of the Keystone State, established lists of “life-sustaining” and “non-life-sustaining” businesses in order to regulate such closures.
“So now we have this very, very ugly precedent, Laura – the government has withdrawn those mandates now, but they have not said ‘we’re never going to do it again’ — And there’s a whole pipeline of new emergencies, whether it’s terrorism or all these new diseases,” Kennedy said.
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He warned that, given the precedent set by liberal governors and federal agencies, the government can simply declare “oh, it’s an emergency – the Constitution is now suspended.”
Kennedy pointed to Lincoln, who regionally suspended habeas corpus in part because the seat of the Union Government – Washington – was surrounded by slaveholding states.
While Virginia was part of the Confederacy, Maryland never seceded, but secessionist sentiment ran high there. Lincoln’s eventual assassin, Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth, hailed from Bel Air, Md.
As Kennedy explained, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney – a Marylander himself – issued his ‘ex parte Merryman’ writ, challenging Lincoln’s ability to do so.
Kennedy said Lincoln wanted to get a handle on pro-Confederate “agent-provocateurs” traveling to Union cities – underlining future leaders should not be able to suspend the law either.
“The Constitution was written for hard times, and we need to restore that,” Kennedy said.
“There’s no excuse for suspending our Constitution. There certainly is not a pandemic exception in the Constitution.”
Later in the interview, host Laura Ingraham asked if Kennedy would consider – should the GOP defeat the Democratic nominee – serving in a Republican administration.
Kennedy said he “would think about that” because he could do “a lot of good for the country” in the Department of Health & Human Services.