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August 05, 2021 | Talking Points Memo

Zena Wolf

Op-Ed

Department of JusticeEthics in GovernmentExecutive Branch

Institutionalism Can’t Save Us Now

We have no shortage of information about how historically bad an Attorney General William Barr was.  His tenure was marked by attacks on LGBTQ rights, immigrants, and peaceful protestors. His overt politicization of the investigations into Russian interference in the election, the Mueller report, and Roger Stone’s sentencing are well-documented, and in a continuing headache for the Biden Administration’s DOJ, Barr’s Justice Department’s intervened to protect Trump against E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against him just two months before the election. And yet, as we saw this week following revelations that his DOJ declined to prosecute Commerce Department officials for lying about the provenance of the Census citizenship question, what we know merely scratches the surface. 

August 03, 2021

Nika Hajikhodaverdikhan

Blog Post

Criminal JusticeDepartment of Justice

How Biden and Garland’s DOJ Can Increase Community Oversight of the Police

As people across the country continue to demand greater accountability for police misconduct, Revolving Door Project is working through its Police Accountability series to make clear how the Department of Justice can answer some of those calls. Part 1 of the series scrutinized the lack of federal, systematic data collection on law enforcement misconduct barring police accountability, explored pockets of power within the DOJ laying the groundwork for police oversight, and suggested 3 proposals. Part 2 of the Police Accountability series called for the relaunching of the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Arrest-Related Deaths program with a tested redesigned hybrid methodology. This piece introduces a second proposal wherein new conditions are placed on grants awarded out of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services’ (COPS) in an effort to leverage federal funds to actualize grassroots governed police oversight mechanisms.

August 02, 2021 | The Forge

Mariama Eversley

Op-Ed

Criminal JusticeDepartment of Justice

How DOJ Can Defund the Police

One year ago, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd sparked an international rebellion against police violence. From this historic uprising, a longtime demand from the Black Lives Matter movement to end mass incarceration and police violence by defunding the police became a part of mainstream discourse. Local campaigns like #defundNYPD and national studies like Freedom to Thrive: Reimagining Safety and Security in Our Communities have fleshed out the meaning of defund, envisioning municipal and state budgets that invest in social safety nets over criminalization. But the executive branch ― the branch of government that creates the rules and regulations that guide the execution of federal law ― remains under-examined as a lever to effect systemic change.

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 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 09, 2021

Elias Alsbergas

Blog Post

Department of JusticeEthics in Government

One Shockingly Easy Step For Government Transparency: Staff Pages

Anyone who’s ever filed a Freedom of Information Act request can tell you that the federal bureaucracy is shockingly opaque despite. This has real consequences for the public’s understanding of what their government actually does every day. Almost all public records requests require watchdogs to specifically identify documents and personnel they are interested in, often without knowing if those documents even exist or if those personnel even still work for the government. This poses a conundrum, however: how can watchdogs know what or whose records to request if they don’t even know who works in a department?

June 08, 2021 | The New Republic

Jeff Hauser Max Moran

Op-Ed

Criminal JusticeDepartment of JusticeExecutive Branch

Merrick Garland Has Become Donald Trump's Legal Protector

On several key matters, Garland’s DOJ has concealed the full extent of Trump’s wrongdoing; kept thousands of immigrants from obtaining greencards, while flooding the immigration system with Trump-selected judges; expanded the scope of police power; ensured oil and gas profits for decades to come; and explicitly protected one of Trump’s most hated Cabinet secretaries from accountability.