Some career lawyers in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division may leave because of the nomination of Sen. Jeff Session (R-AL) as Attorney General. They cite reports of his alleged racist remarks in decades past and his unsuccessful prosecution of black civil rights leaders on ballot-tampering charges.
Sessions, a U.S. senator for two decades, had been one of Trump’s few early cheerleaders in Congress. The former prosecutor has opposed immigration reform as well as bipartisan proposals to cut mandatory minimum prison sentences. His record of racially charged comments in the 1980s is likely to become an issue for Democrats and civil rights groups who will give his nomination close scrutiny.
Its civil rights division was regarded as the U.S. Justice Department’s “crown jewel” under President Obama’s two attorneys general, both of them African American. Advocates worry that the division faces a dramatically different focus under the Trump administration.
In a speech in Washington, D.C., the attorney general called for continued reforms of the American justice system–including an overhaul of fines, fees and bail–in the next presidential administration. “When we begin to treat defendants as cash registers, rather than citizens,” she said, “we do more damage to the fabric of our institutions.”
Cleveland police are operating under a 2015 federal consent decree after findings of civil rights violations, racial bias and excessive use of force by officers. The proposed new policy would require officers who use and observe force to provide a detailed account of what happened leading up to the force. It would also require an accounting of efforts to de-escalate the situation.
Cleveland police have been under court oversight since 2015 after the U.S. Justice Department found patterns of excessive force and civil rights violations. A monitoring team is preparing policy manuals for two agencies that deal with allegations of police misconduct, but that process has taken longer than expected.
Critic Tarso Luis Ramos says jury’s decision “sends a signal that…it is appropriate to challenge the rule of law through armed militancy.” Defendants called their action civil disobedience. Seven more people face trial in the case.
Proposal, which would take effect Dec. 1 unless Congress stops it, would allow federal agents with a warrant to hack millions of U.S. computers at once. Justice Department say it’s necessary to fight “botnets,” while Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) calls it “more government surveillance.”