It’s all crazy today! Join Jim and Greg as we react to #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano suddenly finding a complicated gray area on assault allegations now that Joe Biden is one being accused. They also sigh as President Trump reportedly rejects polling data that suggests his coronavirus briefings could be hurting him politically and that he’s losing to Biden. And they recoil at the aggressive efforts to free prisoners under the pretense of virus mitigation.
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday ruled that criminal jury verdicts must be unanimous to result in convictions, a decision addressing laws in Oregon and Louisiana that allowed convictions even with two jurors voting to acquit.
“Wherever we might look to determine what the term ‘trial by an impartial jury trial’ meant at the time of the Sixth Amendment’s adoption—whether it’s the common law, state practices in the founding era, or opinions and treatises written soon afterward—the answer is unmistakable,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in an opinion. “A jury must reach a unanimous verdict in order to convict.”
So how did Louisiana and Oregon wind up with laws not requiring unanimous verdicts for convictions and why did three justices rule in favor of the existing laws?
We ask Andrew C. McCarthy, former chief assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. We also discuss the push to release prisoners in many parts of the country to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and the inexplicable surprise by some local officials when the freed inmates commit more crimes.
The release of three Americans held prisoner in Iran is being hailed as a sign of increased goodwill heading into next month’s U.S.-North Korea summit, but a leading group assisting persecuted Christians is imploring the Trump administration to make human rights and religious freedom an important part of the conversation as well.
President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un are scheduled to meet June 12 in Singapore. Removing nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula is the top goal for the U.S.
Such an idea seemed impossible just months ago when Trump and Kim were trading barbs about the size of their nuclear buttons, but relation appear to be thawing after Kim’s promise to halt testing of nuclear weapons and missiles leading up to the summit, a positive meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and now the prisoner release.
Open Doors USA President and CEO Dr. David Curry is also excited about the possibility of North Korea mending its ways.
“It’s likely a charm offensive, but you must acknowledge that progress has been made that hasn’t been made before,” said Curry.
Open Doors USA assists persecuted Christians around the world. It consistently ranks North Korea as the worst nation on earth in its treatment of believers. Curry says the release of the three Americans ought to remind us that thousands of unknown North Koreans are imprisoned for their faith with virtually no present hope for release.
“I think what it points to is the people that we don’t know, the ones that are not American citizens, the 50,000 or more…who are Christians in labor camps right now in North Korea today. They could fill a stadium in any city across America,” said Curry.
Curry is pushing the U.S. to demand transparency from North Korea on the treatment of religious and political prisoners.
“What we think would be a helpful thing for the North Korean regime to do – during this time of talk of denuclearization – is make a show of goodwill and open up the labor camps for inspection by the Red Cross so we can begin to understand the scope of the humanitarian crisis there,” said Curry.
He expects Kim to resist such a demand vigorously.
“I think Kim Jong-Un will hold out for the lifting of economic sanctions and denuclearization and try to maintain an iron fist control over his regime,” said Curry.
That iron-fisted approach can land believers in prison or labor camps for the simplest of things.
“You can be arrested and put in a labor camp for years or decades, and some people even die there just for being caught with a bible or being under suspicion of being a Christian. If people sense that you’ve had a bible study or met with others, these sorts of things in North Korea can get you in a great deal of trouble,” said Curry.
Curry says including the issue of human rights and religious freedom is vital for countless people unjustly jailed in North Korea.
“The reason you bring in these human rights issues is that if you really and truly do have 50,000 Christians in labor camps – but there are many more than that for other crimes against the state – what are there conditions? Can we bring the Red Cross and the UN into these camps to make sure that people who are starving there can be helped in some way?” asked Curry.
He says the onus is on Kim to prove the international community ought to have a change of heart about his regime.
“What he may not have calculated and what we must insist upon is that if he wants to be part of the international community…and what that means, he’s going to have to pass some social norms regarding human rights regarding religious liberty and the treatment of prisoners,” said Curry.
And he has other ideas to follow up on those human rights conditions.
“I think an easy one is to allow a visit of the International Religious Liberty Ambassador Sam Brownback within the first 90 days. There are targets I think we can set out like that within 60 days, within 90 days, where the religious liberty ambassador can get in there, have conversations, and have religious liberty, make some observations.
“You have the UN Council on Inquiry be able to inspect certain areas, begin to understand how far we have to go with the North Korean regime and what they’re willing to do to [allow] the World Health Organization and so forth to aid their people,” said Curry.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are encouraged to see President Trump taking steps to make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire bad employees. They’re also furious, but not surprised, to learn that President Obama actually did release prisoners connected to terrorism against U.S. forces despite insisting he hadn’t done so. And they react to the breaking news that former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn accepted money from Russia in 2015 but allegedly failed to report it.