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July 14, 2021

Zena Wolf

Blog Post

ClimateDepartment of JusticeEthics in GovernmentIndependent Agencies

Recent Leaks And Ongoing Litigation At The EPA Highlight The Importance Of Government Transparency

The Biden Administration has a historic opportunity to reverse the executive branch’s long-standing war on whistleblowers, and end the all-too-common (and sadly bipartisan) practice of villainizing whistleblowers and leakers to avoid accountability for government wrongdoing revealed by these actors.

July 13, 2021

Daniel Takash

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionIntellectual Property

GUEST CONTRIBUTION: What Can a New USPTO Director Do?

As of this writing, the Biden Administration has yet to announce a pick for director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. As Fatou Ndiaye has pointed out, this is likely due to behind-the-scenes tension between patent hawks in the Democratic caucus, specifically Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), and the broader progressive, reformist forces in the administration that made it possible for the United States to back a waiver on obligations under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

July 08, 2021

Press Release

BigLawClimateFinancial RegulationRevolving DoorTreasury Department

Biden Must Withdraw ExxonMobil- And Wall Street-Linked Nominee, 23 Groups Say

“As a private corporate attorney, MacBride defended fossil fuel companies, Wall Street giants, Big Tech monopolies, and a myriad of other corporate industries,” the groups wrote. “His past work fighting vigorously and successfully on behalf of corporations against the public interest disqualifies him from a role in the administration.”

July 08, 2021

Vishal Shankar Andrea Beaty Molly Coleman

Press Release

BigLawRevolving Door

Biden Hires Top Officials From Big Tech-Aligned Law Firm, New Report Finds

Over the course of its decade-long partnership with Facebook, Latham has fought consumer data breach litigation, quashed federal investigations into corrupt practices by Facebook contractors, and advised on mergers and acquisitions that have cemented Facebook’s tech monopoly status (including its highly-controversial 2014 purchase of WhatsApp, a merger that is currently being challenged by the FTC).

July 08, 2021 | The American Prospect

Sion Bell

Op-Ed

IRS

One Weird Trick to Force Billionaires to Pay Taxes

Last month, ProPublica, aided by a trove of tax information on the richest Americans delivered by an anonymous whistleblower, began a series of reports on the staggeringly low to nonexistent tax bills paid by specific billionaires and the tactics they use to achieve that end.

In its most recent release, ProPublica detailed PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s use of a Roth IRA, a specialized retirement account in which contributors pay taxes up front but not on distributions, to shelter billions in investment income gains. This involved questionable valuations and other strategies that are either explicitly or implicitly illegal.

July 07, 2021

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post

Department of Justice

Biden Labeled the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Decision a “Disappointment.” His Justice Department Failed to Oppose It.

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court dealt a near fatal blow to what remained of the Voting Right Act. Lawmakers, advocates, and commentators decried the decision, arguing that it will make challenging the wave of new voting restrictions emerging across the country much more difficult. In a statement, President Biden said that he was “deeply disappointed,” and concurred with Justice Elena Kagan’s assessment that the decision upholds “a significant race-based disparity in voting opportunities.”

July 07, 2021

Zena Wolf Dorothy Slater

Blog Post

BigLawClimateDepartment of Justice

Corporate BigLaw Is Infiltrating The DOJ, Jeopardizing Necessary Climate Action

There is no delicate way to put it: Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has been a striking failure so far. More than 10 percent of the way through this presidential term, Attorney General Merrick Garland has failed to remove Trump holdovers; is treating Trump as a completely typical president and refusing to prosecute his many crimes; is not reversing dangerous Trump-era legal positions; and is freely allowing corporate capture of his department.

Garland’s disappointing tenure is detrimental to progressive plans for many issues — criminal justice, police violence, labor rights, immigration, antitrust, and white collar crime prosecution, among others — but his potential to wreak havoc on necessary climate action is most staggering considering the existential stakes.

July 07, 2021

Letter

ClimateCriminal JusticeDepartment of JusticeImmigration

Coalition Tells Biden, "Deference to the Trump DOJ" is "Unwarranted" and "Unjust"

Survivors of sexual assault were hurt to learn that the Department of Justice chose to continue to defend Donald Trump in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against the former president. Unfortunately, this is but one example of many in which Merrick Garland’s Justice Department has maintained flawed legal positions of the Trump administration which contravene not only the administration’s goals, but basic norms of American democracy. While the Attorney General may be motivated by an attempt to maintain the appearance of impartiality at the DOJ, the institutional goal must be to achieve just outcomes; deference to the Trump DOJ under the guise of impartiality is not only unwarranted, it is unjust. The flawed legal positions the Department has been adopting or maintaining in case after case contravene this goal. These positions have already had disastrous repercussions.

July 05, 2021 | The New Republic

Zena Wolf

Op-Ed

Department of Justice

End the War on Whistleblowers

Last month, ProPublica published a jaw-dropping look into the IRS data of well-known billionaires, revealing their meager effective tax rates in detail. The disclosures were met with shock and anger. After all, how could Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, and George Soros go years without paying federal income taxes? And how could this possibly be legal? The article, the first in a series from ProPublica, renewed public cries that billionaires should, in fact, pay their fair share.

June 30, 2021

Eleanor Eagan

FOIA Request

The Supreme Court Confirms, There Are More Trump Holdovers Left to Fire

With few exceptions, the Biden administration has not moved nearly as quickly to remove Trump holdovers as we had hoped he would. Most of the figures who we identified for immediate removal last November remained in office well past Biden’s day one and some are still there today (day 161). Happily, however, none of that foot-dragging was on display last week after a Supreme Court decision gave Biden the green light to remove Trump’s director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Mark Calabria. Within hours, Calabria was out and a new acting Director, Sandra Thompson, was in.