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July 05, 2021 | The New Republic
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
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
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.
June 08, 2021
Let’s be clear: there is absolutely no compelling reason Garland has to maintain the racist, misogynistic, planet-destroying, and corporatist legal stances of the Trump administration.
June 07, 2021
Leslie Caldwell, a top corporate criminal defense partner at BigLaw giant Latham & Watkins, is in the running for a U.S. Attorney job under Biden. Her record championing draconian anti-hacking laws and helping big corporations evade accountability for white-collar crimes should preclude her from any role in the Biden administration.
May 28, 2021
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
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 21, 2021
Brian Netter, a corporate attorney who represented big business in wage theft cases and litigated against workers who sued companies for mismanaging their retirement funds, was just appointed to the Department of Justice.
May 20, 2021
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
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
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
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 22, 2021
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
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.
April 13, 2021
President Biden announced last month that he would nominate Todd Kim to be the top environmental lawyer at the Department of Justice. It was a relatively quiet announcement, devoid of much fanfare, compared to the position’s enormous potential to shape environmental and climate policy for years to come.