I am deeply disappointed that the United States Department of Justice has asked a federal court to dismiss the actions brought against the government by protestors who suffered physical injuries and violations of their First Amendment rights on June 1, 2020. It would be a sad day for justice in this country if a doctrine designed to protect officials against personal liability for good faith exercise of their duties could be used to avoid accountability for an abuse of office in carrying out an unprecedented violation of First Amendment rights, particularly against individuals protesting the murder of an unarmed man by a police officer and the exessive use of violence against people of color throughout our nation.
The teargas, flash grenades and other tactics employed that day injured innocent people and led to the forcible eviction of clergy and others gathered on the grounds of one of the churches of my diocese solely to allow the former President to use images of our church and its Holy Scriptures to convey a message antithetical to the church’s teaching. The Rule of Law means little if those injured by these egregious actions are denied the opportunity to challenge their constitutionality fully and fairly. Even a President is not above the Constitution.
The Rt. Reverend Mariann Budde
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington