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Policy Summary: One of the most significant decisions that President – elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will make in the coming weeks before his inauguration will be whom he will appoint as Attorney General of the United States. The Attorney General is the top law enforcement official in the country and heads the Department of Justice (DOJ). Leadership and management of the department is vital because of the impact the divisions have on all aspects of American life. Well – known divisions at DOJ are the civil rights and the criminal division as well as the environmental and natural resources and antitrust divisions. DOJ also manages several law enforcement agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and, of course, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Due to the enormous responsibilities at leading so many varied divisions and bureaus, President – elect Biden’s choice to lead DOJ will have an effect on the direction the department will take on controversial issues and which laws will be prioritized for enforcement. Thus far, three names have emerged as leading candidates, each with perceived strengths and weaknesses based on the current situation in the U.S. LEARN MORE

Policy Analysis: Former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland have all received serious consideration for the position.

Ms. Yates is believed to be the leading candidate for the job due to her long career and experience at DOJ, which started in the late 1980’s as a federal prosecutor. She also made headlines when she instructed DOJ not to enforce President Trump’s executive order restricting travel to seven Muslim countries. Former Governor Deval Patrick presents the most experience to lead DOJ as he was formerly head of the civil rights division under the Clinton Administration and has more civil rights experience from working for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. And in a bit of a surprise, Judge Merrick Garland’s name has emerged as a serious contender. Judge Garland is known for having his nomination to the Supreme Court blocked by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) but he has impeccable credentials and is well – respected by his peers for his time as the former Chief Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

What these three choices signify is what the Biden Administration would like to prioritize in a post – Trump DOJ. The selection of Ms. Yates would be seen as the most direct rebuke of President Trump’s disregard for the Constitution and his policies as illustrated by Ms. Yates instruction to not enforce one of President Trump’s most controversial policies, the Muslim travel ban, because it was deemed unconstitutional. If Mr. Biden chooses her it would show that the DOJ would get back to following established processes and procedures instead of the bulldozing ways to get what they wanted as was the norm under President Trump’s DOJ. The selection of former Governor Patrick would be seen as prioritizing race and civil rights issues again in the department. This has become vitally important in the wake of racial protests in 2020, criminal justice reform and the Black Lives Matter movement. Under President Trump, the focus on civil rights and their impact on minority communities seem to have been neglected or outright mocked and if Mr. Biden selects former Governor Patrick then he can assure the nation that civil rights will not become an inconvenient afterthought. And finally, Judge Garland as a potential choice to become Attorney General is seen as a way to bring back professionalism and order back to a DOJ that had become chaotic under a Trump Administration. Judge Garland also has experience dealing with domestic terrorist groups as he led the prosecution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. With President Trump giving encouragement to domestic terrorist and white supremacist groups, the selection of Judge Garland would be another message to send that DOJ under a President Biden will not tolerate the encouragement of domestic terror groups.

While the choice for Attorney General has yet to be revealed the leading contenders are helping to signal the direction that DOJ will take under President – elect Biden. His focus is on emphasizing civil rights, combatting domestic terror groups and, most importantly, bringing back a high standard of competence and ethical behavior that was sorely lacking under the direction of President Trump and outgoing Attorney General William Barr. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) – organizational chart of the department’s divisions and bureaus.

U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General – group that seeks to promote integrity, efficiency and accountability at DOJ with reports and updates on ongoing investigations.

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org.

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