The National Law Journal looks for clues on how U.S. Justice Department enforcement priorities could change if Mitt Romney is elected president. Lawyers who follow the department forecast possible changes in areas from civil rights and antitrust to white-collar crime, but it’s mostly speculation because Romney himself has not addressed the issues, at least publicly.
Business interest groups have pressed the department to provide a better road map for companies to comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a powerful anti-bribery tool that has been a boon for Eric Holder’s department. Compliance expert Alexandra Wrage, president of TRACE International and a former chair of the American Bar Association’s anti-corruption committee, said any attorney general under Romney would have a difficult time trying to scale back FCPA enforcement considering how much money companies have pumped into compliance in recent years. “The floodgates are open now,” Wrage said. Civil rights litigation has attracted considerable criticism from conservatives in recent months. Jamie Gorelick, who served as deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton, said a Romney-led DOJ would likely move away from “disparate impact” harm — where there’s no intent to hurt one group — and stick with trying to prove intentional discrimination. “I would say across the board there have always been very large differences between the parties on how civil rights laws ought to be enforced,” said Richard Samp of the pro-business Washington Legal Foundation.