The DOJ failed to follow policies and procedures designed to protect it from accusations that it’s politicized or partially applying the law in a number of cases, including while investigating Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election and in leaks to the media, Inspector General Michael Horowitz noted.
“Numerous national events in the past year have crystalized the urgency for the department to address this challenge in a meaningful way,” he wrote, including the discovery that the DOJ under the Trump administration obtained communications to and from members of Congress and accusations that protesters were cleared from Lafayette Square in Washington on June 1, 2020, for political purposes.
Such events “have all raised questions about the department’s objectivity and impartiality” and “negatively impacted the perception of the department as a fair administrator of justice,” Horowitz said.
As proof, the watchdog cited a 2020 poll from the Pew Research Center, which found favorable views of DOJ among Democrats dropped sharply during the Trump administration. Republican views grew more favorable during the same time.
The Star Chamber was an elitist-operated “justice system” or tribunal originally designed so that the British aristocracy was assured a fair trial whenever they actually faced a criminal charge. In other words, it was a special court for the power elites that was separate and superior to the courts used for average peasants. Publicly, it was also presented as a means for commoners to redress grievances against aristocrats, but it was well understood that the Star Chamber would rarely go against the nobility UNLESS they had also offended the king. If they went against the king, they would be black-bagged like anyone else.
During the unrest in the colonies, however, the Star Chamber was used in a different manner; it became a weapon to crush dissent among subjects that spoke out against the empire and sowed the seeds of “sedition”.
The dreaded court was highly secretive and the public was often obstructed from its proceedings. Its rulings were overseen by the establishment rather than a jury and in many cases those people being charged were never given a chance to defend themselves. They were sentenced before they ever entered a courtroom, if they entered a courtroom at all. Silence was often considered an admission of guilt rather than a right of the accused. Punishments were brutal, including torture and imprisonment under the worst possible conditions.
The death penalty was not allowed, but the court would instead place defendants in conditions so horrible that they tended to die on their own.
All of this was justified under the claim that every person charged was treasonous, and therefore they did not deserve a fair trial among their peers. After the war was over and the British were defeated, the Founding Fathers drafted large portions of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in order to counter and prevent the same abuses they saw under the Star Chamber. The 5th Amendment in particular was directly inspired as a way to stop Star Chamber-like abuses of court power.