Yesterday, I reported on an outlandish effort to shake down a Christian pastor about his views on Islam by the Justice Department in an Obama-era holdover case.
Today, a federal court entirely dismissed the Justice Department’s case.
United States District Court Judge Norman Moon ruled that the case was moot because the mosque settled with Culpeper County. The mosque obtained a settlement allowing it to pump and haul sewage from the land.
The United States had sought to keep the case alive, and to conduct wide ranging and intrusive discovery against third parties such as Pastor Steve Harrelson of the Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church. Harrelson, as discussed in detail in yesterday’s piece, had been served with a Justice Department subpoena compelling him to testify about his views on Islam and to deliver any papers or documents he had about Islam to the government.
The court ruled that because the county had settled with the mosque, the case was done. This means that DOJ won’t be able to probe the Christian pastor for his views on Islam.
Judge Moon wrote:
Taken together, the Government’s additional measures are marginal quibbles that overlook the forest for the trees. They are based on a presumption of bad faith by the County, a presumption supported by little more than bald assertions and which the County has overcome with compelling and unimpeached evidence.
Moon’s ruling means this hunt is now over, as long as the Trump-run Justice Department does not appeal, something it had better not do. I was all set to appear with Tucker Carlson to discuss this abuse of power, and the particular people at DOJ behind it! Too bad. Judge Moon may have mooted that also.
This opinion does raise serious questions, however, about how an abusive and intrusive effort was launched to go after Christian pastors and to ask them to reveal their beliefs about Islam even after a case settled. We’ll be seeking answers.
The back story via Justice Department Forces Christian Pastor to Testify on Islam Views
Pastor Steve Harrelson of the Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Boston, Virginia, has been served with a wide-ranging subpoena by lawyers for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. The subpoena demands his presence to testify under oath in response to questions from Justice Department lawyers about his views on Islam as well as several other issues:
Harrelson is not a party to any lawsuit or other action brought by the Justice Department. He is a private citizen. The Justice Department subpoena also demands that the pastor bring any papers or documents that he has to his deposition with government lawyers that relate to or mention Islam and turn them over to the government.
In addition to Harrelson, other Christian third-party private citizens have also been subpoenaed to reveal under oath their views on Islam and to deliver any documents they possess related to Islam to federal attorneys.
The Justice Department case alleges that Culpeper County refused to grant a permit to allow the Islamic Center of Culpeper to pump and haul away sewage. The case was brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The mosque purchased land that was unsuitable for a septic system at the time of purchase.
The United States Department of Justice is pursuing the case against Culpeper County and forcing a Christian pastor and other Christians to testify under oath about their views on Islam even though the mosque itself has already settled all claims with the county. (Full settlement here).
The lawyers on the subpoena documents are listed as Onjil McEachin and Sameena Shina Majeed.
Onjil McEachin came to the Justice Department in the last couple of years from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where McEachin’s office was deeply involved in advancing disparate impact legal theories to prove racial discrimination.
Sameena Majeed was formerly a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and won the Steere Prize in Women’s Studies at Yale for her work entitled “Feminist Voices: An Ethnographic Examination of Feminist Consciousness in Urban Pakistani Women.”
The case was brought by the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section. The hiring practices of the Civil Rights Division under President Obama has been the feature of PJ Media’s Every Single One series and an inspector general Report of the Department of Justice. (The lawyers featured in the Every Single One Series from that section can be viewed here.) After obtaining resumes of lawyer hires after PJ Media was forced to file a lawsuit against the DOJ, the series revealed that under President Obama, every single one of the lawyers hired was a partisan or ideological leftist. This led the inspector general to recommend that the department end certain hiring criteria that have led to the perception that only lawyers of a certain leftist ideological perspective are hired.
Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez refused to implement the recommendations of the inspector general.
The Washington Post obtained and reported information in a story about the controversial case that the Culpeper sheriff had conducted seminars on jihadi networks in the United States — a fact the Washington Post found to be relevant to the zoning dispute.
The county sheriff has previously come under fire for hosting a seminar on “Jihadi Networks in America” led by a former FBI agent who claims terrorists control most leading American Muslim groups.
Since President Trump’s inauguration, the notorious Civil Rights Division has been run by caretakers without a Senate-confirmed political appointee head. President Trump has appointed Eric Dreiband to head the Civil Rights Division.
Next week, senators have a chance to ask about whether it is a good use of resources to subpoena Christian pastors to ask them about their views on Islam when in a case where the primary parties have already settled.
The Obama-era Dept. of Jihad needs to be rapidly dismantled.