Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions’ strong stands on immigration, and law and order, are not the only reasons liberals want to kill his nomination for Attorney General. It is also because he knows what the Obama Administration has done to the Justice Department and he knows how to bring it back where it belongs—the center of equal justice under the rule of law.
Few people know better than Sessions how to purge the Department of leftist ideology, and how to cut off the large sums of money flowing to leftist non-profiits. For leftists, ideology and money make up a potent combination, and they will do anything to try to preserve it.
The Justice Department became the headquarters of Obama’s campaign to transform America. The building on Constitution Avenue, complete with a blinded statue of lady justice at its front door and “Equal Justice under Law” inscribed on its façade, became the public-interest-law-firm, think tank, and money spigot for the ideological left.
The Justice Department is arguably the most powerful domestic branch of the federal government. Its arms reach into every facet of American life (and not a few places off shore as well), into every courtroom, into every state capitol, every police department, every business, every voting booth, even every Indian reservation, and much more. With some 100,000 employees and a budget of $27 billion, its power, particularly to those on its wrong side, is limitless.
Sessions, 69, who has served in the Senate since 1997, previously was an Assistant U.S. Attorney and then Ronald Reagan’s U.S. Attorney in Alabama (both Justice Department positions), and the state’s elected attorney general. In the Senate, he has served on the Judiciary Committee, which has oversight jurisdiction of the Justice Department. So he has seen firsthand what has gone on at the Obama Justice Department, and it is probably no understatement to say that there is a good deal of it that does not meet with his approval.
Last December, it was widely reported that over the past two years, the Department of Justice has overseen the transfer of over $500 million dollars to liberal activist groups from settlements with major banks in mortgage-lending lawsuits. Justice lawyers require that some of those penalties be paid, as donations, to liberal non-profit organizations, including groups such as La Raza, the National Urban League, National Community Reinvestment Coalition and NeighborWorks America, which in turn gives grants to leftwing community organizing groups and many others. In many cases the funds have gone to groups that Congress deliberately banned from getting government funds. Legislation is pending in Congress to ban the scheme, and members have also tried to ban the practice through the appropriations process.
Another pot of Justice money that funds the left is the Office of Justice Programs, a $2.4 billion agency that is supposed to assist federal, state and local criminal justice programs, juvenile justice and related projects with grants and other forms of assistance. It is impossible to know how much of that money goes to liberal institutions, but a great deal of it likely does. A Sessions Justice Department will change that, and put the squeeze on many leftwing causes and organizations as a result.
Much of the liberal activism emanating from Justice comes from the Civil Rights Division, dubbed the Department’s “crown jewel” by Eric Holder, Obama’s first Attorney General. Civil Rights has responsibility for enforcing federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, sex, disability, religion, and national origin. As such it is involved, among many other areas, in such diverse areas as religious liberty, law enforcement, housing, voting rights, apartment rentals, prisons, hiring practices, abortion clinic protests, school discipline, and who goes into which bathroom. As the “crown jewel” it has been, over the past eight years, at the center of Obama’s campaign to move the country as far to the left as possible. And not surprisingly, its hundreds of lawyers are a band of leftwing activists intent on doing Obama’s bidding to the maximum extent possible.
According to Hans von Spakowsky and Christian Adams, two attorneys who previously worked in the Civil Rights Division who conducted a multi-year study on the backgrounds of Division lawyers, every single one of the hundreds of lawyers hired during the Obama Administration—every single one—was a leftwing activist. “The Obama Justice Department,” they wrote, “has assembled a law firm of hundreds of fringe leftists to enforce a brave new vision of civil rights law.”
The Civil Rights Division also has jurisdiction over police use-of-force situations, such as those in Baltimore, Ferguson, and Staten Island. It has commenced inquiries in those cities, and others, second-guessing local prosecutor and grand jury vindications of the officers involved and instead charging the officer involved with civil rights violations or, if there is no such violation, as happened in both Ferguson and Baltimore, issue a report critical of the entire department and mandating that changes be made.
The Obama-Holder-Lynch Justice Department has been on the front lines of the left’s campaign to vilify law enforcement and to promote radical anti-police organizations such as Black Lives Matter and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. Over the past eight years, the Department has initiated investigations into 23 local police departments for civil rights violations and other nebulous allegations, including hotspots such as Baltimore, Ferguson, Missouri, and Chicago. In such cases, wide-ranging complaints are filed against a department, negotiations undertaken and more often than not an consent decree entered, allowing the Justice Department to in essence direct the day to day activities of the police force, mandating the Obama leftwing social agenda on local jurisdictions.
Further, the Department has been in the forefront of the effort to reduce sentences for serious drug offenders and others, and to release thousands of prisoners from custody before their sentences run. It has also been a strong advocate for legislation to reform the criminal justice system, which would allow, among other things, reductions in sentencing for thousands more felons.
All of those are issues Sessions is intimately familiar with and on which he has taken strong, conservative and pro-law enforcement positions. That sort of knowledge, coupled with his ability to make major changes, terrifies liberals. It is no wonder they don’t want him as Attorney General.