Government Overreach and the Jailing of Shelley Luther
At first blush, the now-infamous Shelley Luther salon case in Dallas, Texas, appears to be one of a judge having lost all common sense and certainly any sense of justice. That’s part of it, but not the entire story.
The jailing of Ms. Luther was made possible through a series of government overreaches. Normally, we’ve been seeing this in blue states, run by so-called progressive Democrats who never let a good crisis go to waste. But here, the shocking action was made possible by a well-liked and successful Republican governor who is appropriately seen not just as a rising star nationally for the GOP, but for the country in general.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a series of executive orders relating to the coronavirus crisis, one of which addressed salons, including barbershops, hair salons, manicure shops, etc. Regarding all the orders involving businesses, there is the penalty section that reads, “Failure to comply with any executive order issued during the Covid-19 disaster is an offense punishable by fine not to exceed $1,000, confinement in jail, or both fine and confinement.”
During the Luther debacle and the ensuing national outrage at her jailing, Mr. Abbott amended his executive order by removing jail time as a punishment. He tweeted, “Throwing Texans in jail whose biz’s shut down through no fault of their own is wrong. I am eliminating jail for violating an order, retroactive to April 2, superseding local orders. Criminals shouldn’t be released to prevent COVID-19 just to put business owners in their place.”
That’s right, but it took the absurd arrest and jailing of a salon owner for him to realize this? I am a great admirer of Mr. Abbott but was extremely disappointed to see his willingness to throw law-abiding citizens in jail over a temporary health guidance order.
After all, executive orders aren’t 500-page pieces of legislation that land on an executive’s desk requiring a signature within a short amount of time. Mr. Abbott knew that jail time was a possibility for citizens during this extraordinary time. And yet, he signed it. Did he think that it was just to scare people? Was it meant as an encouragement to comply? Did he presume that judges would use discretion and not really put anybody in jail?
Perhaps he didn’t consider what a Democratic activist judge was capable of doing. Tristan Justice at the Federalist provides some background on District Judge Eric Moye. It was he who condemned Ms. Luther’s actions to open her business and feed her family as “selfish” and told her if she apologized for this supposed moral lacking, then he would not send her to jail. We all know she refused in the name of principle.
“Luther’s case is not the only controversial case Moye has presided over. A Harvard-educated judge who has served on the bench for more than 25 years, Moye, a lifelong Democrat, also tossed a lawsuit that would have disqualified more than 100 Democrats from being listed on the ballot in 2018 because the local party chairwoman failed to sign candidate applications,” Mr. Justice reported.
“In 1992 Moye was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and almost secured a federal judgeship under the Clinton administration. Since then, Moye still worked on ‘numerous’ Democratic campaigns throughout his career,” noted the Federalist.
A number of district judges in Dallas County labeled Judge Moye’s criticism of Ms. Luther as “inappropriate” for an independent judiciary. And while judges are just lawyers in robes and human beings with interests and biases, we at least expect an effort to be made to be impartial. Yet, as we’ve seen over the past several years regarding “resistance” to President Trump, in many locations the judiciary behaves as though they are foot soldiers charged with implementing the imagined utopian liberal agenda.
There is some additional news on this front in another part of the country. The Associated Press is reporting, after aggressive law-enforcement action against so-called social distancing criminals, the New York City Police Department released data indicating racial bias involved in that liberal mecca. According to the news wire, 374 summonses carrying a $500 fine were issued through May 5 for violating distancing orders. Of those tickets, 52% were given to black people and 30% to Hispanics.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sheepishly responded by saying this was “an indicator that something’s wrong we need to fix,” but he wasn’t talking about the obscenity of using a health crisis as a cynical effort to raise money for the city by punishing those who haven’t already abandoned the city or could not afford to do so.
In the meantime, The New York Times reported that the Brooklyn district attorney said “he was reviewing the social distancing arrests made in his borough to determine if criminal charges were warranted, adding that the [social distancing arrest] images online had eroded the trust in the criminal justice system. His office policy has been to decline social distancing cases. …”
In the midst of this pandemic, we have multiple jurisdictions across the country releasing violent criminals and felons in the name of protecting the prison population from the coronavirus. Politicians and the system then turn around to arrest people for going outside, skateboarding, playing games of basketball, or opening their business.
Americans are recognizing that something very wrong has happened, and we will no doubt continue to make our displeasure known.
• Tammy Bruce, president of Independent Women’s Voice, author and Fox News contributor, is a radio talk-show host.