Mucking Out the Justice Department–46gH.,b12-1
Sessions, as Trump’s choice for attorney general, has the job of draining the swamp at the Department of Justice and making DoJ great again. It’s going to be a grueling job with many facets. The good news is that Sessions, a former U.S. attorney and Alabama attorney general before he was elected to the Senate in 1996, is familiar with all of them.
Rolling back the excesses of Justice under his predecessors Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch should start immediately. Extreme positions in cases in federal court will need to be changed. One example: defense of the “guidance” letters that propound a radical notion of transgender rights.
The “Ferguson effect” that has weakened law enforcement ever since the August 2014 rioting in the Missouri town should be confronted. Selective enforcement of the law—actually nonenforcement—began early in the Obama administration when Justice declined to prosecute armed members of the New Black Panthers who had intimidated voters in Philadelphia in the 2008 presidential election. Since then, immigration rules, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the federal requirement to maintain the accuracy of voting rolls have gone unenforced.
And the impression that powerful people are above the law was heightened. Grassroots conservatives—the non-violent Tea Party patriots—were at the bottom. Justice officials colluded with the IRS against these nonprofit, nonpartisan groups who sought tax-exempt status. They schemed to thwart these groups, even prosecute them, as subpoenaed documents later revealed.
Bankers involved in the economic collapse in 2008 got kinder treatment. They were “too big to jail.” But with the threat of jail hovering in their minds, they agreed to fork over billions in fines. There’s a name for this: extortion. The money was often donated to liberal and left-wing groups—in effect, subsidizing them.
And it touches on the role of the attorney general as a leader. Holder concentrated heavily on race and complained that whites were reluctant to join his dialogue. Indeed, they were. They feared being falsely called racist. Lynch was merely weak. Paralyzed by the Hillary Clinton case, she let FBI director James Comey take a public role in deciding whether to prosecute.
. More than any other cabinet member, the attorney general is obliged to inform the president when he’s wrong, as he may often be. Holder, Lynch, and the entire Justice Department failed on that count with Obama.
As everyone in Washington knows, the civil rights staff has run amok for the past eight years. It has elevated “disparate impact” to a high principle that frees the government from having to prove actual racial discrimination. Sessions can flip that to require acts of bias, but he may face a revolt. Or at least a lot of leaks.
It doesn’t get easier. The division led the attack on the Baltimore police force, claiming in a 2016 report that it conducts unlawful stops and uses excessive force. Around that time, three Baltimore officers were acquitted in the Freddie Gray case and charges against three others were dropped. Meanwhile, Vanita Gupta’s authority as acting head of the division expired more than a year and a half ago. Her actions may be challenged in court, creating still another mess.
The office of legal counsel was once DoJ’s crown jewel, known for its integrity and professionalism. Its job was to determine if proposed policies, particularly the president’s, meet constitutional standards. Under Obama, it stamped its approval on anything he wanted to do, including recess appointments when there wasn’t a congressional recess. The Supreme Court struck that down, 9-0.
The solicitor said property owners have no right to challenge a government order to stop building their home. Given such cases, it’s not surprising Obama’s solicitor won only 45 percent of his cases. Over the prior 50 years, solicitor generals prevailed at a 60 percent rate.
SOURCE-FRED BARNESS, WKLY STD,