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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 09, 2021

Andrea Beaty Eleanor Eagan Nika Hajikhodaverdikhan Sion Bell

Blog Post

Administrative LawDepartment of Justice

The Trump Administration Made a Mockery of the Law. Why Hasn't Biden Tossed its Cases?

Donald Trump and his Department of Justice consistently made a mockery of the law throughout his four years in power. And while their laughable reasoning and indefensible positions were struck down at a historic rate, many cases were still waiting for Biden. The new administration tossed out a handful immediately but an alarming number remain, either in some form of pause or advancing forward with the Biden administration adopting Trump’s position.

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.

May 28, 2021

Nika Hajikhodaverdikhan

Blog Post

Criminal JusticeDepartment of Justice

How the DOJ Can Federally Document Every Fatal Case of Police Misconduct

The Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD) program — a federal tracking system to document cases of police homicide amid other manners of death emanating from the arrest process & the police interaction at large — held massive potential to further police oversight goals. Not only does re-establishing the ARD program require no legislation, but a template for a revised ARD program has been underway for over 6 years. The pilot study reconstructing the ARD’s methodology yielded a blueprint mapping out how the relaunched ARD program could operate by a hybrid system of open-source media mining and law enforcement agency surveying. Reactivating the ARD program in its contemporary version is one of the easiest & speediest proposals that the Biden administration & Garland’s DOJ can actualize on the matter of criminal justice reform — so, why aren’t they?

May 20, 2021

Nika Hajikhodaverdikhan

Blog Post

Criminal JusticeDepartment of Justice

What Biden & Garland’s DOJ Must Do to Monitor & Curb Police Misconduct

Policing, anti-black, anti-immigrant, ableist, and capitalist at its core, was designed to be outside of the scope of the law. The deployment of federal law enforcement officers in unmarked vans to abduct and detain Black Lives Matter protestors in Portland, Oregan during last summer’s national uprising over police killings demonstrates the extreme nature of rogue American policing. Police prerogative power, as the expression of the state’s legalized violence to enforce public docility at its will, is embedded in US governance. Couple that with qualified immunity, police contracts & unions, police bill of rights, and whatnot, law enforcement are shielded from disciplinary actions.

May 11, 2021

Ella Fanger

Blog Post

Department of JusticeImmigration

Garland's DOJ Needs To Prioritize Fixing Our Broken Immigration Court System

Two recent pieces from The Hill and the New York Times have called much-needed attention to the dismal state of immigration courts in this country. Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice (DOJ), which oversees the immigration court system, has thus far failed to root out white supremacy and adequately staff the system, leaving hundreds of thousands of migrants in precarious legal–and physical–positions.

May 07, 2021

Henry Burke

Blog Post

Criminal JusticeDepartment of JusticeGovernment Capacity

The DOJ's Civil Rights Division is Perilously Unstaffed, Slowing Biden Goals on Police Oversight and Reform

Throughout the 2020 campaign, in the wake of nationwide protests over the murder of George Floyd and other unarmed black people by police officers, Joe Biden committed himself to reforming law enforcement and combating police violence. But significant challenges loom in Biden’s quest for police reform. The federal government’s role in state and local law enforcement agencies is limited, and Biden’s ability to shepherd police reform legislation through Congress will be hampered by Republican opposition and disinclined moderate Democrats. Despite these obstacles, however, Biden is not powerless to make strides towards his campaign goals. Through his Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, he holds a significant power over local policing.

April 27, 2021

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionCriminal JusticeDepartment of Justice

Questions for Joe Biden and Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice

Amid a transition season of bruising battles between progressives and the old guard over Biden’s Cabinet picks, Merrick Garland for Attorney General was one choice that sparked relatively little controversy. Three months into Biden’s presidency, however, Garland is quickly shaping up to be the most consequentially bad Cabinet pick. On any number of important metrics — sweeping out holdovers from the Trump administration and reversing its positions, preventing corporate capture, and acting aggressively to advance the public interest — Garland is failing.

April 27, 2021

Sion Bell

Blog Post

BankruptcyDepartment of Justice

Biden Must Fire and Replace the Bush-Era Head Bankruptcy Overseer

Since the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) of 2005, the bankruptcy process has been more onerous for poor debtors, who now must go through myriad additional hoops to prove their worthiness for financial relief. While many of the problems with our current bankruptcy system require legislative fixes, there is one thing that President Biden can do immediately to improve the system: fire and replace the Director of the Executive Office for US Trustees, Clifford J White, III.

April 22, 2021

Nika Hajikhodaverdikhan

Blog Post

Criminal JusticeDepartment of Justice

Merrick Garland: A Potential Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing for Criminal Justice Advocates

Last May, as the country first erupted into protests over George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Biden promised that he would deliver “real police reform” if elected president. The country’s eyes are on Minnesota again this week after a police officer in a Minneapolis suburb shot and killed Daunte Wright, sparking a new wave of protests. This time, Biden need no longer speak in hypotheticals; he is President. Will his administration deliver?

April 14, 2021

Mariama Eversley

Blog Post

Department of Justice

Bold Leadership Needed in Minnesota’s U.S. Attorney Office

As police terror continues to claim the lives of Black Minnesotans, Biden must use all the tools at his disposal to root out police misconduct and deliver on his campaign promises of racial justice. U.S. Attorneys, the local face of the Department of Justice, will be an important institution to leverage. But the remains of Trump’s influence on these offices through acting officials and assistants could thwart the administration’s goals.