Thomas Sibick had to agree not to watch “any news programs or political programs or talk shows” and not to attend any “political rallies”
“I object, Your Honor! This trial is a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of two mockeries of a sham!”
Fielding Mellish, in Woody Allen’s 1971 film Bananas, could easily have been talking about the treatment of Jan. 6 defendants in D.C. district court judge Amy Berman Jackson’s courtroom.
Last week, Jackson entertained a motion by 35 year-old Buffalo, New York native Michael Sibick for bail release.
Unlike most other Jan. 6 detainees – who are accused of glammed-up trespass and disorderly conduct offenses – Sibick faces heavy-duty charges.
Sibick was arrested on March 12 for assaulting and robbing a Metropolitan Police Department officer of his police badge and radio during the Jan. 6 melee. He stands indicted on 10 counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, robbery, and engaging in physical violence on the Capitol grounds.
He was denied bail soon after his arrest, a decision that was affirmed by the D.C. Court of Appeals.
Sibick’s case was assigned to Judge Jackson – an Obama-appointee and outspoken Trump antagonist who presided over the prosecutions of several of the former president’s loyalists, including Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and Roger Stone.
President Trump was a vocal critic of Jackson, calling her out for allowing her perceived left-leaning politics to interfere with her jurisprudence. For example, Trump highlighted that she put Paul Manafort in solitary confinement, “something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure.”
And as Roger Stone infamously posted on Instagam, Jackson “dismissed the Benghazi charges against Hillary Clinton and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime.”
Recently, Sibick renewed his application for bail release. But this time, he presented the court with something he didn’t offer during the first go-around: a written denunciation of President Trump.
In a letter to Judge Jackson, Sibick wrote:
“January 6th was a disgrace to our nation that left a scar Trump is ultimately responsible for, but we are strong and we will heal from it. While many praise Trump, I loathe him. His words and actions are nefarious causing pain and harm to the world. He is not a leader and should be ostracized from any political future, what he honestly needs to do is go away!”
Despite the gravity of the offenses with which Sibick is charged – and despite the DOJ’s strong opposition to his motion to be released on bail – his polemic against Trump was the open sesame needed to get Judge Jackson to set him free. Leftists prize conformity.
But Jackson also wanted to set conditions on Sibick’s release. To be sure, if the release of a pretrial detainee may endanger the safety of others, the judge is empowered under federal law to set conditions on the defendant that are “reasonably necessary” to “assure the safety” of the community.
But the conditions that Jackson imposed on Sibick in exchange for his freedom are deeply troubling. She ordered that to gain release, Sibick had to agree not to watch “any news programs or political programs or talk shows” and not to attend any “political rallies” – constitutionally protected activities.
#Breaking: Jan 6 defendant Thomas Sibick who famously buried Officer Fanone’s badge in his backyard is being released by DDC Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who tells his father not to put on FOX *or* MSNBC. Inner City Press is live tweeting: https://t.co/Tr8yPyr1pa
— Inner City Press (@innercitypress) October 26, 2021
In the name of protecting community “safety,” however, Judge Jackson used her vast governmental power to forbid Sibick from being exposed to ideas that political television shows and rallies might communicate.
But the Supreme Court has stated unequivocally that the protection of political speech lies “at the heart of the First Amendment.” And where the Constitution prohibits the government from directly imposing a particular ban, the “unconstitutional conditions” doctrine provides that it can’t make the ban the price of pre-trial release.
Yet that’s exactly what Judge Jackson did.
Such an abuse of judicial authority should concern all Americans, regardless of party affinity and irrespective of their opinions about the former president.
It is but a short leap for a court to next ban the writings of Fyodor Dostoevsky or Thomas Paine – or any author, for that matter, who the ruling class considers not bien pensant – because it disagrees with the messages they impart. Our justice system would become a partisan thought police no different than the Soviet Cheka that banished Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to the gulag for his dissident beliefs.
The left decries the treatment of Alexei Navalny in Russia and Roman Protasevich in Belarus, both of whom have been jailed for criticizing their autocratic and repressive governments. But those who think that Jackson’s treatment of Sibick is somehow different are fabulists at a costume ball. This is tyranny masquerading in a black robe.
It’s exactly the sort of thing we’d expect to see in a Third World Banana Republic like the one in Woody Allen’s movie.
Cue Fielding Mellish: it’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham.DONATE
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