U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) on Wednesday tore into the Biden administration for selectively picking and choosing which laws to enforce based purely on political considerations — a mentality that Alabama’s senior senator emphasized is a direct threat to the rule of law in America.
Shelby’s comments came as opening remarks during the Senate Committee on Appropriations’ hearing focused on domestic violent extremism in the United States. During the hearing, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified before the committee, of which Shelby is the vice chair.
“The rule of law – the very foundation upon which America was built – is paramount to our future as Americans and the future of our democracy. Selective enforcement of our nation’s laws erodes that foundation,” Shelby said.
He underscored that “our country cannot afford to pick and choose the laws we enforce.”
Addressing Garland and Mayorkas, Shelby then lamented, “And yet, we watch that happen every day.”
“Domestic violent extremists threaten the rule of law,” the senator continued. “But so too does turning a blind eye to the flood of illegal immigration at our southern border.”
Shelby outlined his thoughts on both of those issues.
“First, violent extremism is a very serious topic. Unfortunately, many of my Democratic colleagues have sought to make it about politics and race. They would have the American people believe that all domestic violent extremists are far-right wing white supremacists, and that all Republicans are complicit in their actions,” he remarked. “Of course, both are false.”
“I believe the overwhelming majority of Americans watched the events of January 6 with shock and horror,” Shelby affirmed.
The Tuscaloosa County resident then alluded to seemingly selective outrage by many Democrats.
“I also believe that just as many watched the endless string of riots in cities across America last summer with the same emotions,” he continued.
“They saw Antifa thugs beat and intimidate innocent people,” Shelby explained. “They saw violent anarchists burn police cars and precincts and attack law enforcement officers. They saw far-left extremists hijack Seattle and destroy the livelihoods of so many small business owners. And they saw Black Lives Matter activists trash cities and loot businesses from coast to coast, night after night.”
Shelby emphasized, “None of these actions are excusable – not those of January 6 and not those of last summer. They are all wrong. They all violate the rule of law.”
“Yet in the face of this utter contempt for the rule of law, so many have chosen to stand idly by, excusing one while condemning another,” he decried.
“Such rationalization of inappropriate and even illegal behavior is dangerous, and I believe the American people see right through it. Moreover, it is dangerous for our leaders and law enforcement to focus on one threat to our nation while ignoring another. Such behavior raises questions as to whether justice is still blind and whether the rule of law still has meaning and force in America,” the venerable senator added.
He subsequently questioned whether the American people watching the hearing could believe that federal authorities take an apolitical approach to combatting violent extremism.
Shelby also called for the embrace of “a uniform approach to enforcing all the laws that are on the books.”
“That includes our immigration laws,” he stressed.
Shelby continued his remarks on the topic of immigration and the rule of law.
Partial transcript of his remarks as prepared, as follows:
Illegal immigration has long plagued this country. It undermines American sovereignty and makes a mockery of our immigration laws.
The failure to secure our border has for decades allowed the cartels, drug smugglers, and human traffickers to continue their practices largely unabated.
The Trump administration made a strong commitment to border security and achieved significant gains in restoring the rule of law along the Southern border.
Yet President Biden, in one of his first acts in office, halted construction of the border wall that was ongoing and announced plans to unwind the immigration policies put in place by the previous Administration.
Sections of border wall literally lay on the ground next to gaping holes in the existing barrier system.
Gates in the wall that need repair remain wide open and require Border Patrol officers to stand guard when they are needed in other hot spots along the border.
Essential technology such as sensors and cameras embedded in the border wall system have not been activated.
All of this while record numbers of individuals pour across the southern border.
The impact of these actions is not theoretical or abstract. Our border officials and facilities are overwhelmed. Tens of thousands of migrant children are in U.S. custody as we speak.
Moreover, this Administration has restored catch and release – setting thousands of illegal crossers free in cities and towns across America – without consequence for breaking the law.
And inexplicably, amid the ongoing crisis, the Justice Department recently rescinded restrictions on federal funding for sanctuary cities, which themselves embody contempt for the rule of law.
This action can have no other effect than further fueling the crisis by enticing those who seek to come here illegally.
More parents in desperate circumstances in Central American countries will pay human smugglers to drop their children off at the border because the prospect and promise of sanctuary just got brighter.
The ultimate source of law in America – the Constitution – provides Congress with the power of the purse.
Congress over the past few years has provided billions of dollars to the Department of Homeland Security for further construction of a border wall system, which includes functional gates and essential technology.
Yet the Biden Administration has blatantly ignored the will of the people to secure the border as expressed in duly enacted laws.
The rule of law must be restored for the good of this country.
It must govern whether we are talking about domestic violent extremism or illegal immigration.
It cannot come down in full force on one group of bad actors while giving a pass to others. And officials tasked with enforcing it cannot pick and choose which laws they will follow based on political considerations.
If those things happen, the rule of law will lose its meaning and force in America. And we as a nation will be in serious trouble.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn