Binion Comments On Sentence In Federal Case

Before we get started, we wanted to note a couple of things about the writer of the piece we are going to discuss.

Billy Binion is an associate editor at Reason, which is not exactly a right-wing publication. He’s additionally been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and HuffPost. Binion has also been cited by publications like The New York Times, The Atlantic, Vice, and The Daily Beast.

The writer is now getting a lot of flack from the left after he wrote a piece about Paulette Harlow, 75, who was recently sentenced in Federal Court to serve two years in prison for blacking out an entrance to an abortion clinic in October 2020.

Harlow was part of a group of protestors led by Lauren Handy who on October 22, 2020 booked an appointment under a fake name. Prosecutors said that the scene outside was chaotic that led to a nurse spraining an ankle after being hit with a door shoved by Jay Smith, 34. It should be noted that Smith got the lightest sentence because he didn’t go to trial.

The group was charged under the FACE Act (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) which makes it a federal crime to “engage in “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”

Detractors of the law argue that the law isn’t necessary, considering there are already trespassing laws on the books. Binion argued that the “FACE Act arguably further criminalized conduct that was already illegal.”

One of Binion’s concerns was how the case was presented:

But that point is especially relevant in the context of how the Department of Justice (DOJ) under President Joe Biden’s administration pursued this case and related cases. Not content just with the FACE Act, prosecutors paired it with another federal offense: conspiracy against rights, which criminalizes conspiring “to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person” who is in the process of exercising a legal or constitutional right.

Prosecuting these offenses in tandem gave the government an opening to secure sentences that were, in this writer’s view, clearly disproportionate to the criminal conduct, regardless of one’s political views. Fifty-seven months—the sentence Handy received—is, for example, the same punishment a federal judge last month handed to a Hawaii man who allegedly defrauded 42 investors out of $1.2 million. There is a disconnect here.

Binion also wrote that he was mortified when Harlow’s sentencing Judge mocked the 75 year old woman telling here she should “make every effort to remain alive…because that is part of the tenets of your religion.”

The progressive writer added: “Do even the most avid pro-choicers think this woman should potentially die in prison for this?”

Binion noted that the protestors who lied to get an appointment kept people from entering was a violation of the law but “that still doesn’t negate the absurdity of those prison terms. Biden ran for office in part on a promise that he had rethought his tough-on-crime past. It is possible for him to balance that with his pro-choice plank. It appears he has chosen not to.”