Some judges make the punishment fit the crime.
Some make the crime fit the punishment.
That seems to be the approach by one federal judge in Washington, when it comes to defendants in the Capitol incursion of Jan. 6 — especially when the punishment she’s imposing is more than even prosecutors ask for.
According to Reuters, a judge appointed to the federal bench in 2014 by then-President Barack Obama has gone beyond prosecutors’ sentencing requests in handling the guilty pleas of those charged in the incursion — imposing more jail time than Department of Justice lawyers sought, and describing their actions in far worse terms than the charges they pleaded guilty to.
According to the report, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Wednesday sentenced two cousins who took selfies in the Capitol that day to 45 days in jail — two weeks more than prosecutors had asked.
On Tuesday, Chutkan sentenced a woman to two weeks behind bars when prosecutors had recommended probation — and had cited her “cooperation with law enforcement” in making the recommendation, Reuters reported.
Last week, she sentenced another defendant to 45 days in jail. Prosecutors had recommended three months’ home confinement, according to The Washington Post.
“There have to be consequences for participating in an attempted violent overthrow of the government, beyond sitting at home,” Chutkan said, according to the Post.
Whatever the merits of that opinion might be — the fact is that “attempted violent overthrow of the government” is not what the defendants were charged with, and it’s not what they pleaded guilty to, according to Reuters.
All had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of unlawful parading and picketing inside the Capitol, the news service reported.
Naturally, in the social media cesspool of Twitter, there were plenty of users who applauded Chutkan’s actions (it’s amazing how flexible liberal principles are). But even on Twitter, Chutkan had her critics.
This is political targeting.
Sentence them to what they deserve only. https://t.co/1LxMOlbhBS
— Pradheep J. Shanker (@Neoavatara) October 13, 2021
This is literally persecution.
One of the things people from other countries can claim for asylum. And now, an activist judge is persecution individuals for misdemeanors.
What happened to those who entered the Senate building during the Kavanaugh hearings?
— ChristopherXade (@ChristopherXade) October 14, 2021
But this one put it perfectly.
This is not justice. https://t.co/OsHixHMlff
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) October 13, 2021
No, it’s not justice by any commonly understood sense of the term.
This is politics by another means.
According to the Post, Chutkan made it clear at last week’s sentencing that she was doing more than weighing the specific case before her and rendering a judgment on the defendant alone.
“Because the country is watching,” she said, “to see what the consequences are for something that has not ever happened in this country before, for actions and crimes that undermine the rule of law and our democracy.”
It’s pretty clear that besides her legal briefs, Chutkan reads mainstream media outlets like The Washington Post and The New York Times to inform her world view. (She’s got well-established bona fides for a liberal on the federal court, ranging from trying to halt the execution of a man who raped and murdered a 10-year-old girl to ordering the federal government to help illegal aliens get abortions.)
Regrettable as the Capitol incursion was, as deplorable as the acts of violence by protesters that took place were — and they were deplorable — no sane person can conflate the actions of an overexcited mob with an armed insurrection against the government.
It’s important to remember that the only person who died as a result of deliberate violence that day was one of the protesters, shot to death for no apparent reason by a Capitol police officer.
And in a crowd where it’s reasonable to suppose there were a fair number of Second Amendment supporters, there were no firearms in evidence (and even the stories about fire extinguishers were inflated by the mainstream media to conjure up a story that protesters killed a Capitol police officer.)
Chutkan was right about one thing: The country is watching. It’s watching a perversion of the concept of justice in service of a political agenda, just as it watched for four years while the FBI was placed in service of the Democratic agenda to kneecap Donald Trump’s presidency, and just as it watched throughout 2020 as rioters savaged American cities and Democrats cheered (and even helped bail them out.)
It’s watched as the defendants in the Capitol incursion have been treated far worse than any Black Lives Matter mob that ever looted an AutoZone. (That didn’t stop the D.C. circuit court’s chief judge from asking in August why prosecutors were being so easy on the Jan. 6 defendants.)
It’s watched as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has openly turned the commission to “investigate” the incursion into yet another weapon in the Democrats’ war against Trump supporters.
Now, the country is watching as a Democrat-appointed judge comes up with her own descriptions of what criminal defendants have pleaded guilty to, and metes out sentences that are beyond what even prosecutors are seeking.
It doesn’t matter that the sentences amount to only a couple of weeks more behind bars. What matters is the principle of equal justice.
What Chutkan is doing is betraying that principle. It isn’t justice. It’s a disgrace.
And there was a time not so long ago that liberals would have known that.
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