In response to the abusive treatment of conservatives by the FBI and Justice Department culminating last week in the raid of President Trump’s private residence, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is calling for the repeal of the Espionage Act.
The espionage act was abused from the beginning to jail dissenters of WWI. It is long past time to repeal this egregious affront to the 1st Amendment.
Repeal the Espionage Act – The Future of Freedom Foundation https://t.co/3KCgujpS9z
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) August 13, 2022
In a tweet posted on Saturday, Paul said that the “espionage act was abused from the beginning to jail dissenters of WWI.” In calling for its repeal, he described the law as an “egregious affront to the 1st Amendment.”
Paul cited an article by Future of Freedom Foundation founder and president Jacob G. Hornberger published in 2019 in support of his argument. In that piece Hornberger lays out the history behind the Espionage Act, which was enacted two months after the U.S. entered World War I and has remained on the books ever since.
He notes how the law has been used up to the current year to prosecute journalists for what could only be classified as traditionally protected speech and press freedoms. Rather than pleading with the deep state agencies to use the law “in a more judicious manner,” Hornberger says ordinary Americans should demand its repeal.
He lays out the reasons Woodrow Wilson had for pressing for the enactment of the law, which was not aimed at punishing actual spies for foreign powers but to suppress opposition to Wilson’s ambitions to involve America in the European war and the military draft needed to field an army that could cross the Atlantic to fight.
In Wilson’s time, the law was used to violate persons who spoke against the draft and the U.S. involvement in the war. In as much as the Espionage Act stands apart from other laws that are actually designed to combat spying activity and the Constitution itself, which explicitly defines the crime of treason against the United States.
It now appears from documents released so far that Attorney General Merrick Garland is relying on a provision in the Espionage Act that addresses “defense information” that is “illegally removed from its proper place of custody” to justify the warrant used to raid Mar-a-Lago.
Not surprisingly, Democrats and neoconservative Republicans alike are condemning Paul for daring to question Garland’s use of the Wilson-era law to look for any possible reason to challenge President Trump’s ability to run for the White House again in 2024.
Time will tell if the judicial system will require the full disclosure of Garland’s methods and motivations for attacking Trump and how the fallout could affect this year’s midterm elections and the 2024 presidential election.