Thursday, January 25, 2018

AG Sessions Restoring the Rule of Law at DOJ

Carrie Severino wrote a lengthy summary of what Attorney General Jeff Sessions has done to restore the rule of law at the Department of Justice in less than a year:
Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions was confirmed to head the Department of Justice (DOJ) nearly one year ago, he has been making an impact in which the rule of law has more of a place than it ever did in the Obama DOJ under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. . . .  
Also pernicious was the Obama administration’s practice of requiring settling parties to pay third-party organizations, many of them left-of-center, that were not involved in the underlying cases or harmed by the conduct of defendants. The practice closely resembled a DOJ-imposed slush fund for liberal interest groups. Sessions asserted, “Nowhere does the Constitution grant unelected attorneys or political appointees the power to effectively appropriate and distribute funds based on their political alliances.” DOJ put an end to third-party settlements in June. . . .
Besides its work to revive adherence to the Constitution’s provisions regarding the structure of the government, this DOJ has shown that its dedication to the rule of law extends to the direct protection of individual rights. Sessions issued guidance to all executive departments and agencies summarizing 20 principles of religious liberty and instructing them to “vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.” . . . The current DOJ also has taken positions in litigation not involving the federal government that aggressively advance First Amendment rights and that would have been unthinkable a year ago. . . . As a contrast to Eric Holder’s 2013 suit to block Louisiana’s school voucher program, which primarily aided the state’s poorest minority children who were trapped in substandard schools, consider how Sessions’ fidelity to existing law has enabled him to pursue new milestones in advancing civil rights. DOJ is currently reviewing a complaint from over 60 organizations accusing Harvard University of discriminating against Asian-American applicants. Months earlier, it secured a 49-year sentence in the first case prosecuted under the Hate Crimes Prevention Act for the murder of a victim due to gender identity and deployed an attorney to assist in a state prosecution following the murder of a transgender student. . . .
Attorney General Sessions himself described on Tuesday how enforcing the law and increasing respect for law enforcement has dramatically reduced the violent crime rates that had risen under the Obama DOJ.

Ms. Severino concludes by noting that these changes, and the other changes described in the article, are only possible because Attorney General Sessions is deeply committed to the rule of law:
Like the rest of Sessions’ initiatives as attorney general, this recent development flows from his commitment to the rule of law, whether it diminishes unilateral executive action in deference to the elected officials who bear lawmaking responsibility under the Constitution or vigorously enforces laws duly enacted by constitutional process. What a welcome change from the previous DOJ.
We thank Attorney General Sessions for his commitment to the rule of law.  The RNLA will explore the many ways the Trump Administration is restoring the rule of law at its annual National Policy Conference on Friday, April 27, in Washington, DC.  More information and tickets are available here.

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