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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 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 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 27, 2021 | The American Prospect

Eleanor Eagan Elias Alsbergas

Op-Ed

Department of JusticeEthics in Government

Justice Department Shot Through With Corporate Influence

The U.S. government is involved in hundreds of court cases each year, most of which are not followed closely. But the baseline assumption is that the government is defending the public interest and holding criminals accountable, even when most aren’t watching. Unfortunately, in Merrick Garland’s Justice Department, that is not uniformly the case. Key acting officials, drawn from the halls of corporate power, are riddled with conflicts of interest that are already affecting their ability to protect the public. If the Justice Department is to serve all Americans rather than bolster individual fortunes and entrench corporate power, Merrick Garland must stop elevating corporate attorneys who have gotten rich fighting on corporate America’s behalf.

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.