Join us as Eric S. Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, discusses the priorities and work of his office before, during and after COVID-19.
Eric S. Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice
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Micah Wallen: Welcome to The Federalist Society's Teleforum conference call. This afternoon's topic is a Capital Conversation's Teleforum with Eric Dreiband who's the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. My name is Micah Wallen, and I'm the Assistant Director of Practice Groups at The Federalist Society.
As always, please note that all expressions of opinion are those of the expert on today's call.
After our speaker has done opening remarks portion, we will then move to the audience Q&A. In order to encourage audience participation, we're going to go ahead and open up the audience Q&A floor right here, at the beginning of the program. So if a question comes to your mind, during Mr. Dreiband's remarks, feel free just to push the correct buttons and join the queue.
Without further ado, Mr. Dreiband, the floor is yours.
Eric S. Dreiband: Thank you Micah, and thank you everyone for joining us today. I look forward to your questions and doing my best to respond to them.
Given that the country is currently dealing with a very deadly and serious public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought what I would do is just to start off my remarks today by discussing what the Department of Justice is doing, and in particular, what the Civil Rights Division is doing in conjunction with the United States Attorneys and other law enforcement officials around the country to respond.
So I'll start with a memorandum, issued by Attorney General William Barr on April 27th, and in that, Attorney General Barr explained that he wants myself, and the United States Attorney from the Eastern District of Michigan, Matthew Schneider, to be focused on, what he describes as, balancing public safety with the preservation of civil rights.
So the Justice Department is doing many things in the area of the pandemic and law enforcement issues that arise as related to that. Of course, my focus is on the civil rights issues related to the pandemic. And so, Attorney General Barr on April 27th explained, in a document that's available publicly on the Justice Department's website, that even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and the federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers, and that there are other constitutional and federal statutory protections that continue to be operative during the pandemic.
It certainly is the case that state and local officials, for example, have very broad police power to respond to a very deadly and contagious virus of the sort that we are now dealing with. At the same time though, the Constitution, and in particular, the First Amendment, forbids discrimination against disfavored speech and undue interference with the national economy. And so, Attorney General Barr directed myself and U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, to oversee and coordinate efforts to monitor state and local policies, and if necessary, to take action to correct them.
And that is what we have been doing. And we were doing it even before his memo issued, but certainly, we've been doing it since, and we're doing that in a variety of ways. Of course, we have ongoing investigations into various civil and criminal cases around the country. We also are involved, and have been involved, and will continue to be involved in, litigation in the federal courts. And we are also though, working in, what I regard, a collaborative fashion at times with state and local officials when we have concerns, or when United States Attorney Offices around the country discover certain concerns related to civil liberties, civil rights issues and, typically, shelter-in-place type orders, the pandemic, the re-opening plans that various state and local jurisdictions are moving towards at this stage of the country's response to the pandemic.
And so, by way of example, we filed a statement of interest on behalf of religious worshippers in a couple of cases. One, in Mississippi, a case where there were allegations that the Mayor of Greenville, Mississippi penalized people who were trying to gather -- practicing social distancing in their cars, in a parking lot, with the windows rolled up. They were not allowed to leave the car and, yet, they were cited and fined and so forth. And we filed a statement of interest, on behalf of those individuals, and expressed concerns about undue and unlawful interference of the free exercise of religion that's protected by the First Amendment.
Likewise, and more recently, in a case called Lighthouse Fellowship Church v. Northam, we filed in support, again, of the plaintiff's in that case. These were individuals—16 individuals—who were gathered very distantly in a church that had a capacity of 225 people. The authorities moved in, sanctioned the pastor and took other action. And so, we filed in favor, again, of the religious plaintiff's in that case and argued that what the state of Virginia was doing—the local authorities were doing—by restricting the free exercise of religion, raised very serious First Amendment concerns in that case. That case is on appeal in the Fourth Circuit.
In other areas of the country, we've had success, I think, working with our colleagues in the United States Attorney offices around the country, to work with mayors and governors and their staff's when issues have come to the attention of the Department of Justice, about whether or not certain kinds of pandemic related restrictions are appropriate, whether they're being fairly applied. And so, for example, working with the United States Attorney Tim Downing in Oklahoma, we sent a letter to the mayor of Norman, Oklahoma after the mayor restricted religious practice in a manner that was not restricted either elsewhere in the state of Oklahoma, nor were non-religious gatherings restricted in such a similar way.
U.S. Attorneys around the country, working with the Civil Rights Division, have focused on many, many other issues related to the pandemic in everywhere from Mississippi, working on Second Amendment issues, to Alabama, New York, Nevada, Louisiana, Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois, and elsewhere. We will continue to do that.
So with that, I think I had better stop there Micah, and I'll just turn the floor back to you.
Micah Wallen: There's one coming through now, so maybe we’ll just delay. So we'll go ahead and move to our first question.
Mary Ann McGrail: Mary Ann McGrail, I’m an attorney in D.C. I don't think this falls under the daily width of the DOJ, but I'm going to ask this question anyway.
Do you foresee any problems with extensive contact tracing that would impinge on civil rights?
Eric S. Dreiband: That's an excellent question, Mary Ann. We don't know. We don't know where or how any such contract tracing may occur, but the Fourth Amendment's guarantee against unreasonable search and seizures, remains in effect, and will be in effect. And so, consistent with direction by the Attorney General, we will, of course, review any kind of policy or practice that could involve an unlawful invasion of privacy or otherwise violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
I'm not saying that will happen, in other words, I'm not saying that any such policy would be unlawful but we will—if and when that happens—we will look very carefully at whether whatever is being proposed is consistent with the Fourth Amendment protection. Having said that, as I mentioned earlier, under our structure of government, the state and local governments do have the general police power. They do have broad authorities but they cannot act in arbitrary matter, even in a time of crisis. And the Bill of Rights and the Fourth Amendment is, I think, relevant to your question, will remain in effect and we will police that.
Micah Wallen: Mr. Dreiband, I wanted to ask you, how you viewed, the unique challenges that a pandemic has for a nation at large with this many individual states in it? Do you see the DOJ taking sort of an adaptive approach to individual states? Because, while the Bill of Rights states firm, and should apply equally, it seems like, in some states and cities, there's a much greater need on, sort of, the side of public health and safety that may be is seen in other states and cities.
Eric S. Dreiband: First of all, the pandemic, related to COVID-19, is affecting different places in different ways at difference times. There's been, as I'm sure as everyone on this call knows, a very serious spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout New York, New York City in particular, the New Jersey area, more so than other places. And that's inevitable, in that, the way this virus is acting, that different parts of the country will be impacted differently. In a similar way, mayors, city councils, law enforcement, generally, governors themselves, are taking different approaches. And I think we have to, at the Justice Department, we have to balance different interests here. One is, that under the Constitution and our federal system, state and local jurisdictions do have very broad and very important, both power and authority, to address emergencies of the public health sort that we are now dealing with as nation, and have been dealing with for the last several months.
So they have a very difficult job to do, they, being mayors, local law enforcement, governors, and other state and local officials. And we are trying to balance respect for that under principles of federalism that we operate, within both generally, and particularly, at the Justice Department. But at the same time, arbitrary acts that are not tethered to dealing with the pandemic that impinge upon liberty in this country, are things that we are, likewise, concerned about.
And we have a duty, particularly at the Civil Rights Division, and a job that I am in, as the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, to uphold both the constitutional protections and federal statutory protections as well. Those have not been repealed, and certainly the Constitution remains in effect, and so, we do look at, and are hearing from many, many people around the country, about allegations that state and local policies or, in fact practices, raise concerns about impingement of liberty. And so we look at them, we try to be respectful as we can, and then decide whether, and to what extent, any action is appropriate.
Micah Wallen: All right. We have a few questions that are lined up now. So we'll go ahead and move to our next question in the queue.
Jack Lund: This is Jack Lund from Washington, D.C. Some states have banned elective procedures including abortions. Do you have a position on the constitutionality of these orders?
Eric S. Dreiband: The Justice Department has not weighed in on that dispute and those cases are being litigated, and they are things that we are looking at. So right now, I think, I would just say, stay tuned for more from the Justice Department on those things. I mean, we do, certainly, have concerns that any restrictions that are unrelated to an actual response to the virus and the pandemic raise challenges, to put it mildly, and concerns on our part. And we cannot have a situation, in which, governments in this country are using the pandemic as a pretext for other motives or other things. I'm not saying that's what's happening here with elective procedures, but it is something that we are looking at.
Micah Wallen: And before we go to our next question, I actually had a follow up question on that note myself, Eric. And one of them is, I know with California, recently, they've sort of moved to reconsider their Prop. 209, and that's something that isn't directly tied into coronavirus, or being used with coronavirus, but is something which, I would say, in normal times, we'd be hearing much more news and attention. How does the DOJ face some of those issues which are going to fly under the radar now, purely because priorities have been rearranged?
Eric S. Dreiband: Well, our work continues. So we are prosecuting civil and criminal cases all over the country on matters completely unrelated to the pandemic, and we will continue to do that. So I don't know what California is going to do with Prop. 209, but I can speak to what we've done with respect to allegations of unlawful racial preferences in higher education. And that is, we filed, in United States Court of Appeals, so the First Circuit, a few months ago, in which we argued that Harvard University's college admissions program violates Title VI in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because it engages in unlawful racial balancing and racial preferences under the statute that this favored Asian applicants, Asian-American applicants.
Now, again, I'm not speaking to California's proposed repeal of Prop. 209, but the use of race in this country is something that is extremely limited in terms of the permissible use of races say, as a matter of law. And so, we will look very carefully, and scrutinize very carefully, any attempt to inject race into decision-making that disfavors one group of people and favors others because of their race, including in higher education.
Micah Wallen: Gotcha. Thank you so much. We'll now go to our next caller in the queue. If anyone would like to join and ask a question of our speaker, just press star and then pound.
Ed Heimlich: Ed Heimlich, here in Texas. I'd like to question you about Section IV of Article IV of the U.S. Constitution that we're -- it says the United States are guaranteed a republican form of government in every state, and that, quite clear to me, required some division of powers. With the power to make a law reserved exclusively for the legislator and our text Constitution is even quite emphatic about this separation of powers.
And yet we have a governor who claims that the -- should've read the Constitution, should know that even if the statutory law enacted by the legislator says so, he cannot make an issue -- dictate securing the force of law. I mean, that turns our whole system into a dictatorship. So I'm wondering where the federal government is? Why they don’t step in and tell our governor that, "Hey, look, you can't do that." You can call the legislature in the session, and they can make some laws to address this, but you can't issue dictates, nor can county attorney -- you know, the head of the county, but that's what's happening here. So what's your thoughts on that?
Eric S. Dreiband: Okay. You raised an excellent point. Let me respond to that first of all. I agree, as a matter of principal and what Article IV of the Constitution says about guaranteeing a republican form of government and what we've seen, and what we have seen, is what you have described.
Now, a couple of things about that. One, when governors or other officials overstep their bounds, what we so far have seen, as a general matter, is that state courts are approaching these kinds of actions more skeptically than the federal courts, number one. So for example, a week or two ago, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, took the position that these kinds of dictates that were being issued—not by the governor in that case, but, like, some state public health official—were unauthorized by Wisconsin law, and did exactly what you say, which is, they ran contrary to our concept of legislative bodies as rulemaking bodies, that is, the law being made by a state legislator or the Congress of the United States' case may have been.
Secondly, there are times, when state legislators have authorized governors and other executive officials in a state, in an emergency, to issue emergency orders of the sort that we've seen since the COVID-19 pandemic develop. Usually, those state statutes are time limited -- you know, limited to 30-days, 60-days, maybe 90-days, at the most. And I think, where we have concerns, and where courts have had concerns, is when governors or other Executive Branch officials issue an order under a state statute that authorizes them to act, say, for a 30-day period, or something of that nature, and then the 30-day period expires and they just keep doing it anyway. They keep issuing new orders.
There are two questions there. One is, do those orders violate state law? If they do, what we're seeing is the state courts declaring those orders null and void at times. Sometimes, governors and mayors, will say that the state constitution or other similar, broader law, within their state, gives them inherit power to act that way, and that's really a matter of state law.
Now, at the federal level, in terms of the federal state relationships under our principals of federalism, I think there are three provisions that are relevant to the question. One is, the Guaranteed Clause, that is, the United States will guarantee a republican form of government in each state -- and that's exactly what you mentioned. There's also the Commerce Clause of Article I of the Constitution, that limits the authority to regulate commerce among the several states, to the Congress of the United States, and then there is the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause. And the question, I think, which is that no state should deny any person life, liberty or property without due process of law.
And so, we are looking -- let me be clear, we have already -- and a lot of this is not in the public view -- but we have already worked with several governors and mayors in a non-litigation form to express the concerns we have about what they have been doing, and we have, at least in some states -- Mississippi, Alabama, Nevada, Louisiana, and others. Massachusetts. We have gotten -- through working with governors and others in those states—Missouri's another one, Wyoming's another one—where we have gotten -- we're persuaded, without litigation, that local officials to take us a different course than they've been taking. We are also looking at, and will continue to look at, whether it is appropriate for the Justice Department to weigh in in the courts of the United States, and we will continue to do that.
Micah Wallen: All right. We'll now move to our next question.
Allen Abramowitz: Hello. This is Allen Abramowitz calling from Florida. As different states have different degrees of lockdown, either stay-at-home or safer-at-home, is there any concern coming up to the election there might be states trying to limit political rallies or creating freedom of association issues and as a pretext to not have rallies? Just curious if the Justice Department would weigh-in on something like that?
Eric S. Dreiband: Hey, Allen. Yeah. There are concerns like that. There's a case now at of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, that involved that very kind of client. We are looking at that case about whether it's appropriate for us to weigh-in. So we haven't come to a judgment in that case yet.
But, this is a very difficult question, because under a 1905 Supreme Court case, and other subsequent cases, the Supreme Court has interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution—the Constitution generally—to authorize state and local government to infringe upon, what would otherwise be, rights of the sorts you described, Allen, like, right to assemble, right to even exercise religion at times.
To deal with, in that case, there were questions or concerns about mandatory vaccinations in response to a very contagious small pox outbreak. So under existing law, state and local governments have very broad police power to deal with these problems, but they cannot act in an arbitrary manner. And if they do, they could, and may, violate the Constitution or other federal statutory protections. And if they do, we will weigh-in and take appropriate action and that, which is similar, to what we've already been doing but, we will continue looking at this and, of course, as the pandemic changes, the authority that would normally grant -- in state of heightened emergency, may change and likely will.
I mean, our hope, I think, as a nation for all of us, is that, the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the spread of the virus diminishes over time, and then we get back to normal here. But right now, there is some uncertainty about, I think, the authority of state and local governments to continue to the kind of shelter-in-place requirements, and the restrictions of liberty that we've seen in the last few months.
And to the earlier caller's question, the authority of them to do it without being authorized by their state legislator as well. Those are becoming more and more difficult questions the longer this goes, and it is something that we are looking at carefully. And, carefully scrutinizing state and local practices and policies with respect to these issues, and working with state and local governments where we can, outside of the courtroom, but certainly willing to go into court as we've done and will continue to do where appropriate.
Micah Wallen: We'll now move to our next question in the queue.
Caller 3: Hello. [Inaudible 00:23:10] attorney in New York City. Nice to meet you, sir.
Nearly every single department of the DOJ has an email address for example the ‘ole PR, special litigation and antitrust. So, what is the email address to submit complaints, tips, for civil rights violations? That's the first quick question.
The second question is a little bit more involved. How is the Civil Rights Division dealing with or handling complaints against unscrupulous, out of control, civil rights violating federal judges, law clerks, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, police officers, federal agents within the DOJ or DHS that have been given higher more augmented powers under the Patriot Act or NDAA, and one constantly, seriously abuse that increased power against U.S. citizens or Green Card holders, particularly, in say, New York City where liberals, democrats, minority and government workers constantly and routinely target or deprive white or conservative US citizens of their civil liberties or constitutional rights.
So sort of a reverse racism that goes on in New York City in a sense, because whites tend to be, or conservatives and even minorities in New York City, they tend to be a lot more -- and as a civil rights attorney, I see this -- targeted by minorities in government power, federal or state or local. Are they treated the same way? I rarely see cases that are prosecuted like that and it seems to be a problem in New York City. Thank you.
Eric S Dreiband: Okay. So, let me make sure -- I'll try to respond as best I can to both points.
So, on how to file a complaint, or otherwise contact the Civil Rights Division, I would encourage anyone listening to go to the Justice Department's website which is, www.justice.gov/crt, that's the Civil Rights Division's website, and depending on the kind of concern or complaint, there may be different ways to contact the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. So for example, if someone were concerned about, by way, for example, sexual harassment housing. There's information about our sexual harassment housing initiative on our website or each of our -- the Civil Rights Division is divided into 11 sections by jurisdiction enforcement, criminal section, employment litigation section, things of that sort. So it depends on the area and I would navigate the website there and there's information about that or hate crimes or other things, just depending on what the concern is.
Now, with respect to the second part, and I think I understood the question, and I'll do my best to respond to it. The question is, what happens when, as I understood it, state and local officials engage in, what the caller describes is, discrimination against white people, I think was the -- or favoring certain races over others. So I hope I'm characterizing the question correctly because it was a long question and I tried to follow, but may have missed some nuance there.
So let me address that. The use of race by state and local governmental officials is extremely limited in terms of what is permitted as a matter of law, and depending on the context, may be prohibited entirely. So, usually, the use of race by a state and local official, is governed by the highest standard of review under constitutional law. The so-called strict scrutiny standard of review. I mentioned earlier, a case involving Harvard College, in which we filed our position, both in the Federal District Court and then in the United States Court of Appeals in the First Circuit, in which we expressed the view that what Harvard College is doing violated the civil rights protections, which are essentially scrutiny of protections through a statue called Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, in which, they were favoring certain racial groups and disfavoring others. So-called reverse discrimination in a sense, is an issue in that case which is still pending.
We do not in any way tolerate the unlawful use of race by anyone in this country, and especially state and local government officials. And if and when we become aware of the use of race in such a prohibited way, we will both initially investigate such a claim and if the claim proves to be meritorious, we'll bring appropriate action in federal court if we can't settle the dispute and persuade the state or local jurisdiction to change course. Having said that, the Civil Rights Division, historically, has not brought a lot of cases of this nature and it is something that we are focused on and that I have a team of people looking at them.
So with that, I'll take the next question.
Micah Wallen: All right. We'll move to the next question in the queue.
George May: Hi, this is George May, attorney in Houston, Texas. By the way, we're not under a dictatorship as the previous Texas caller said. We're still a republic. I have a just a general question. I understand that the role of the Department of Justice is to protect the interests that we drive from the Bill of Rights, but is there any affirmative role at the Department of Justice can take, or is taking, to support governors and local officials in the exercise of their police powers in this emergency?
Eric S. Dreiband: Yeah, George, that's a good question. I mean, we have been working -- I mean, the answer is yes. So, we've been working -- I can only speak to what I'm doing in the Civil Rights Division. So there are other parts of the Justice Department, for example, that are taking action when -- let me give you an example. When there are allegations of people who are hoarding scarce medical resources or selling them for extorsion of prices, defrauding people who are in dire circumstances due to the severe problems caused by the pandemic, things of that sort. That where other components of the Justice Department, including United States Attorney offices around the country are pursuing that civilly, and in some cases, criminally.
Now, with respect to working though in a positive way to support governors and mayors and so forth; yes, is the answer in a sense. And let me explain what I mean by that. As I said earlier, state and local governments under our structure have very broad police power and we are doing our best to be respectful of the broad police powers that they have. They have a very difficult job to do in each state, each jurisdiction in the country, to deal with, what is, at least in our lifetimes, an unprecedented public health crisis.
So, that's why we are trying, to the extent we can, when we see issues that we think implicate federal law enforcement concerns as a result of pandemic-related issues or policies of the local and state level for example. We initially try to work directly, and very often outside the public view, with mayors and governors directly, and explain our concerns to them, either in a letter, with a follow-up via a phone call and things like that. And what we've found so far, is that, as a general matter, when local officials, including governors, have become aware of the concerns that we have, that we're able to work in a very positive way with them to avoid litigation and to make adjustments to what they've been doing in a way that complies with the Constitution and other federal laws that we enforce.
That's primarily -- I mean, the Justice Department is a law enforcement agency, and so, we're not, as a general matter, in the role of say, grant making. I mean, we do have a grant making law office called the Office of Justice Programs, that I don't -- that's headed by a separate person. But outside of that, the Justice Department is primarily law enforcement. And so what we've been trying to do is, rather than always coming in with the heavy hammer of, you know, we'll see you in court, we're going to sue you or something of that sort, we've been trying to take a mix of approaches depending on what the circumstances call for and start out initially with that presumption that we've tried to work something out without litigation.
Micah Wallen: All right. We'll now move to our next question in the queue.
Quinn Dukes (sp): Good afternoon. This is Quinn Dukes from Washington, D.C. Are you aware of any pending litigation that challenges the use of mail-in voting or ballot harvesting with -- that is justified by the pandemic? And if not, is the department opposing or planning to undertake affirmative litigation to prevent mail in voting or ballot harvesting in this fall federal election?
Eric S. Dreiband: Okay. So let me -- that's a good question. There are many proposals around the country that deal both of mail in voting and ballot harvesting, and so, we're aware of those proposals. We are looking at them and we're aware of litigation about them.
The different components of the Justice Department that deal with voting issues. There is a division of the Justice Department called the Criminal Division, and the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, is the component of the Justice Department that primarily addresses allegations of voter fraud, or other voting irregularities that may occur in terms of say, election integrity. So I work with the head of the Criminal Division on -- and there's a section of the Civil Rights Division called the Voting Section. What we enforce in the Civil Rights Division, like civil rights laws, like the Voting Rights Act that relate to -- and to answer your question, mail-in ballots and ballot harvesting.
From the stand point of the Civil Rights Division, because of the statutes we enforce -- there's always been forms of mail-in ballots. Let me start with that one. But those have usually been a very small minority in the number of ballots cast in elections. You know, overseas ballots, people absentee ballots, things of that sort that have been done via mail. Because of the pandemic, there are many, many proposals and considerations to do much broader mail-in ballots and ballot harvesting than in prior elections.
With respect to whether or not there are issues of vote fraud related to those practices, that's within the privy of the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section. With respect to whether or not, there are allegations that those practices will related to civil rights violations, those are within the jurisdiction of the Civil Rights Division.
So recently we weighed in, in a case pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in which we argued that the state of Arizona's limitations on ballot harvesting were, in fact, lawful under the Voting Rights Act. And we will continue to litigate those cases as appropriate and as the year unfolds, but it is something that many, many people at the Justice Department are continuing to review very carefully, especially, as they say, in the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division.
Micah Wallen: All right. We have reached the end of our question queue. As a final question from myself, Mr. Dreiband, I'll ask is there anything you would like FedSoc members to know or what can FedSoc members be doing to assist the DOJ, and yourself, in this work and these various issues we've touched on today?
Eric S. Dreiband: You know, that's an excellent question Micah. First of all, let me add so I don't forget to say it, thank you again to everyone for the taking to time to listen to me today and to join us today.
I think -- what I would suggest, is that anybody, whether in Washington, D.C. or Texas or New York, or where ever around the country, if you have concerns that the way the government—that is, state, local, or even federal government—are responding to the pandemic, of the sort that some of the callers have expressed, you know, in different ways in this call. I would encourage you both to look at the Civil Rights Division website about how to raise these concerns.
There's information on there about how to navigate them. But also to contact local United States Attorney offices, because local United States Attorney offices are working with me, and with others in the Civil Rights Division to review, to examine practices and policies, that state and local governments, in particular, are enacting and acting upon to deal with the pandemic. And, you know, there are times when the U.S. Attorney's office, for example, becomes aware of something in a state and brings it to my attention, or that of some of the team of people I have working with me in Washington, and we work through it and we try to come up with ways that we can respond to the problem that a member of the public may be identifying. And so, that's, I think, the best thing that will be particularly helpful right now, Micah.
Micah Wallen: All right. Well, no other questions from our audience, so I'll offer one last chance, is there anything you wanted to say to wrap up, or anything else you wanted to say before I close us out?
Eric S. Dreiband: The only thing I'll say Micah, is I think that -- two things. One, we have, as everyone on this call knows, a public health crisis that is unprecedented, probably since the Spanish Flu a hundred years ago, but certainly in my lifetime, anyway. And this is causing a lot of pain and suffering on behalf of a lot of people. Both those infected with the COVID-19 virus, those that have died from it and otherwise suffered health effects of it. But, also, the tragedy of what we've seen which the effect that this thing is having on our economy.
At the same time though, I think, it's been inspiring to see the American people respond to this in such a positive way. People, generally speaking, are being careful and, I mean, there are exceptions in a country of 300 million people, but people are generally responding in a very careful way, a very deliberate way. And at times are, I think, being zealous about holding public officials to account, if and when—as happens nobody's perfect—but if and when the government responds in a way that is overzealous, arbitrary, or otherwise unwarranted.
So I would just ask everyone to have respect for the difficult jobs that many public officials have. But also to commend everyone on this call and the people around the country for what at least I regard as overall, not perfect, but a response to the pandemic as well as a response to civil liberties and civil rights issues that I think will enable us as a country to emerge from the crisis with our principals intact.
Micah Wallen: All right. Well, on behalf of The Federalist Society, I'd like to thank our expert for the benefit of his valuable time and expertise today. We welcome listener feedback by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you to all to joining us. We are adjourned.
Dean Reuter: Thank you for listening to this episode of Teleforum, a podcast of The Federalist Society’s practice groups. For more information about The Federalist Society, the practice groups, and to become a Federalist Society member, please visit our website at fedsoc.org.