By October of President Obama’s first term, Tom Perez had been confirmed by the Senate as assistant attorney general for Civil Rights at the Justice Department. Mr. Perez then used the vast power of the Civil Rights Division to fundamentally transform the country. That Trump DOJ nominees remain stalled in the Senate more than a year after Mr. Trump took office is madness.
In this case, it’s reefer madness.
The reason that the nominations of Civil Rights Division nominee Eric Dreiband and Environmental Environment and Natural Resources Division nominee Jeff Clark are stalled is because of marijuana. Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner had been holding Mr. Trump’s DOJ nominees because he doesn’t want the federal government enforcing federal drug laws in Colorado.
Talk about misplaced priorities. Mr. Obama’s people and policies have remained in place because Mr. Gardner has been more worried about pot. This includes lawyers who engaged in or supervised grotesque misconduct against police officers as part of former Attorney General Eric Holder’s war on cops.
Mr. Gardner has relaxed his hold against the nominee for the Criminal Division after President Trump intervened, but that hasn’t dislodged the critical Civil Rights and Environmental Division nominations.
Whatever your view on pot, these misplaced priorities ignore the profound radical damage Mr. Obama’s Civil Rights Division inflicted on the rule of law.
Recall that during the Obama presidency, outlandish behavior was already part of the Holder-Perez oversight of Civil Rights. On April 27, 2010, more than 1,000 Civil Rights Division employees gathered at the gilded Mellon Auditorium for a retreat dedicated to transforming the country, complete with skits. There were panel discussions about “emerging” legal issues such as “environmental justice” and keynote speakers warning of the coming sympathy for Nazism in America. Federal employees sang songs on stage about police brutality and cooked up plans to push transgender rights despite Congress never authorizing it.
For more than 15 months now, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has been without a Senate-confirmed leader. While Mr. Dreiband sits in limbo, the same Holder-Perez managers who oversaw the outlandish retreat and the policies that followed remain, including the unethical misconduct directed at police officers and peaceful pro-life protesters.
Civil Rights Division lawyers were scolded by U.S. District Judge Kurt Englehardt for brazen dishonesty in a criminal case against New Orleans police officers, and those responsible for supervising that mess remain employed. Other federal judges admonished lawyers for bringing bogus cases against elderly and peaceful pro-life protesters.
That’s just the tip of the radical iceberg.
Until Senate-confirmed nominees are in place, it will be impossible to fully clean up the mess left by Eric Holder and Tom Perez.
In the past decade, the Civil Rights Division was the engine of progressive transformation on race, cops, voting, religion, immigration and gender identity. It is this radicalism that candidate Trump ran against, and it propelled him to the White House.
Return to that DOJ auditorium in April 2010, where the proceedings resembled a utopian farce. The attendees took in panels related to a “LGBT Working Group” and acted out plays and musical acts on stage. Bear in mind, Mr. Obama would not reverse on gay marriage until 2012 — Hillary Clinton held off until 2013. And, Congress has never passed legislation.
Another speaker at the 2010 retreat informed on strategies for “collaboration with sister agencies,” foreshadowing the focus on Tea Party groups. Concerns over “anti-immigration discrimination” at the farcical retreat preceded an explosive proliferation in “sanctuary” jurisdictions and a mob criminalization of enforcing well-established law. A discourse on “place based initiatives” was so ahead of its time, some progressive journalists argued that it failed by 2015, but the revolution lives on.
Messrs. Dreiband and Clark are not needed just to cancel these radical and environmentalist fifth columns. As the Justice Department continues to see trustworthiness slide with the Comey-Strzok-Mueller-McCabe drama, Trump voters want evidence at Justice that Mr. Trump won the election in 2016.
The Civil Rights Division must fully reflect the results of the 2016 election, where a radicalized anti-police pro-illegal immigrant, anti-election integrity cabal is defanged for good.
This goes beyond race-neutral enforcement of voting laws. It is more than ensuring equities in employment, education funding, religious liberty, and others. A full reset is necessary.
The American people must be able to see that when civil rights are on the line, no matter how obscure or unpopular a protected position is, they will have backup in the form of DOJ attorneys when needed.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his staff cannot and should not be expected to fill this gap alone. They have their own lanes. Every day that Senate leadership delays in seeing Eric Dreiband and Jeff Clark through is a true injustice.
• J. Christian Adams is the president and general counsel for the Public Interest Legal Foundation and a former Justice Department lawyer. He also served on the Presidential Advisory Commission for Election Integrity.