- - Monday, August 17, 2020

From 2009 through 2017, the Obama Department of Justice used a variety of questionable tactics to neuter law enforcement throughout the country, put dangerous criminals back on the street, send taxpayer money to liberal third-party activist groups and manufacture criminal investigations against political enemies. 

Attorney Generals Jeff Sessions and William Barr have been rebuilding the Justice Department from the social justice organization it was under Presidemt Obama, to a modern, data-reliant law enforcement organization that is concerned with one thing and one thing alone — reducing crime to keep communities and neighborhoods safe. But a Biden-Harris administration threatens to unravel that progress and return the DOJ to a social justice organization that puts criminals before police.

In fact, things may get even worse under Biden-Harris than they were under Mr. Obama. The left has been absolutely seething with hate for the past four years under President Trump. Add into that cauldron of resentment the fallout from George Floyd’s death, which has led to non-stop media coverage of false narratives pushed by radical, anti-law enforcement politicians and advocacy groups that the police are executing Black people every day in the streets, our entire legal system is racist, and we need to tear down our institutions to ensure equality of results.

What would a Biden-Harris Department of Social Justice look like?

Let’s start with police reform. When prosecutors in the Criminal Division of Mr. Obama’s DOJ declined to bring charges against the police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, the Civil Rights Division sued the Ferguson Police Department, investigated the Baltimore Police Department and then force draconian consent decrees that handcuffed the police.

These consent decrees were drawn up by DOJ bureaucrats without law enforcement experience and heavily influenced by their friends in the social justice industry, with massive fees ultimately going to allied firms to monitor the progress of the consent decrees.

As Heather MacDonald correctly wrote in The Wall Street Journal:

“Mr. Obama’s Justice Department has imposed an unprecedented number of federal consent decrees on police agencies, subjecting those agencies to years of costly federal monitoring, based on a specious methodology for teasing out alleged systemic police bias.”

To see just how unserious this process was, look at this passage from the Baltimore Consent Decree, which wanted to make sure that the police used proper pronouns when dealing with potential criminals:

“BPD will ensure that BPD officers address and in documentation refer to all members of the public, including LGBT individuals, using the names, pronouns, and titles of respect appropriate to the individual’s gender identity as expressed or clarified by the individual.”

Unsurprisingly, crime in Baltimore has been on the rise despite (or perhaps because of) the federal takeover of the police department. It’s no wonder that the Trump DOJ immediately stopped imposing consent decrees in 2017. That practice would almost certainly resume under a Biden-Harris administration. America may be less safe in that circumstance, but at least the police will use the right pronouns.

Of course, the Biden-Harris DOJ would not stop at radical federal police takeovers. Here is what else we could expect:

• Police departments being cut off from funding for not adopting appropriate social justice policies mandated from Main Justice.

• A revival of third-party settlements, an Obama-era tactic where settlement money from civil enforcement lawsuits is redirected to non-party, left-wing advocacy and political groups. It was ended by Attorney General Sessions, but we could see this revived and social justice groups as the beneficiaries.

• An attempt to reduce incarceration by releasing prisoners, as we saw during the Obama administration when 6,000 people were let back on the street in one day.

• A return to the Holder Memo, reversed by Attorney General Sessions, which encouraged prosecutors not to list the drug amount on charging documents to avoid stiff sentences for defendants charged with dealing significant amounts of heroin, crack, cocaine and methamphetamine. 

Those reversals at the DOJ would be devastating to the mission of public safety, but we should fear far worse. With the pressure campaign from radical groups, we could see unrecognizable changes. For example, the Movement for Black Lives, a radical organization that advocates political solutions for Black Lives Matter, proposes decommissioning prisons and jails, ending home confinement, defunding the police, decriminalization of all drugs and prostitution, and elimination of criminal punishment fees and fines. In essence, they want to legalize crime.

Unfortunately, these changes would weaken law enforcement and make communities and neighborhoods across the country more dangerous. Further, the gutting of law enforcement under a Biden-Harris administration would have a disproportionate impact on black neighborhoods and communities, as Black Americans make up 52% of murder victims, despite making up only 13% of the total population. Black lives do matter, and a Biden-Harris Department of Social Justice would be devastating to Black lives and communities.

• Ian Prior was the principal deputy director of public affairs for the Trump Justice Department and current CEO of Headwaters Media.

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