Jeff Sessions Gonna GIT TOUGH ON YA, For 'Justice'
He's not saying racial gerrymandering isn't real. Just that it doesn't matter much. Better?
The US Department of Justice has just released its revised “US Attorneys’ Manual,” the guidebook that offers all federal prosecutors -- not just the US Attorneys -- handy tips on Justice Department policy and priorities, as well as guidance on how to pursue various kinds of cases. It was certainly due for maintenance, since the last major revision was done in 1997. But the new version, Buzzfeed explains, has some nifty changes, like eliminating language on press access to proceedings, getting rid of old-fashioned prosecutorial priorities like racial gerrymandering in the drawing of legislative districts, and some unnecessary lines about fitting charges to the crime instead of pursuing the harshest charges possible. Oh, yes, and adding in a whole bunch of reminders to make sure "religious liberty" is protected, particularly the rights of Christians not to be discriminated against, since they are so sore oppressed. Little stuff like that.
As Buzzfeed notes, not all of the changes are substantial -- much is just getting rid of outdated resources, or splitting large paragraphs into two or three paragraphs, which could certainly make the thing easier to work with. But then there are the somewhat surprising deletions, like the complete elimination of a subsection headed “Need for Free Press and Public Trial,” which used to remind prosecutors,
Likewise, careful weight must be given in each case to the constitutional requirements of a free press and public trials as well as the right of the people in a constitutional democracy to have access to information about the conduct of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and courts, consistent with the individual rights of the accused. Further, recognition should be given to the needs of public safety, the apprehension of fugitives, and the rights of the public to be informed on matters that can affect enactment or enforcement of public laws or the development or change of public policy.
They're not saying the press should be stonewalled, heavens no! Just taking out all that bothersome stuff about "transparency," because since when does government have to go out of its way to help the Enemy of the People, huh? The new manual also adds sections about how leaking classified information is a crime -- which of course it always has been, but there's much more emphasis on preventing leaks of all kinds, because again, government certainly doesn't have to help those jackals, now does it?
Now that the Justice Department is actually supporting Texas's defense against a voting rights case involving redistricting, a reversal from Obama's DOJ, it shouldn't be too surprising the manual has dropped this passage, too:
The Voting Section defends from unjustified attack redistricting plans designed to provide minority voters fair opportunities to elect candidates of their choice and endeavors to achieve racially fair results where courts find, following Shaw v. Reno, 113 S.Ct. 286 (1993), and Johnson v. Miller, 115 S.Ct. 2475 (1995), that redistricting plans constitute unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.
Honestly, is there any reason to keep bringing up race anyway? It's such a divisive topic, and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is no common Eric Holder with all those grievances. Just let things be! Besides, the sections about not allowing poll taxes or literacy tests for voting are still in there, and in a remarkable concession to the multiculturalists and liberals who want to destroy America, plus the Supreme Court, the manual even keeps the stuff about providing voter materials in languages other than English. Does Sessions get any credit for that? Not from the biased media.
In a section on how accused criminals should be charged, the new version gets rid of a number of lines that reflected Eric Holder's priority of giving prosecutors the chance to use their judgement as to how severe charges should be. Sessions wants prosecutors to go for the toughest charges and harshest punishments possible, because Get Tough is the priority:
In a section on whether prosecutors should pursue the most serious charges possible, language was deleted about how decisions should be based on “an individualized assessment” of cases and that charging decisions should “fairly reflect the defendant’s criminal conduct.”
That section now reads: “Once the decision to prosecute has been made, the attorney for the government should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offenses. By definition, the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”
Prosecutors will still have the option of pursuing charges other than the most serious ones possible, but they need permission from a supervisor to make sure they're not getting soft on crime.
Similarly, a preface stating that prosecutors' charging decisions can have "far-reaching implications, both in terms of justice and effectiveness in law enforcement and in terms of the consequences for individual citizens" has been eliminated; the revised section removes the stuff about the prosecutor making decisions and gets straight to the applying justice for the good of us all. Another section axes a line cautioning against loading on too many additional charges, which could constitute "an excessive — and potentially unfair — exercise of prosecutorial discretion." We're in favor of piling on now.
So there's Justice in the Trump years -- the DOJ prosecutors' manual can't actually change laws, of course, but it certainly does embody a view of justice that's more punitive, less concerned with voting rights, and far less open to public scrutiny. It's like the difference between the two sergeants at the start of Hill Street Blues: Michael Conrad's Sgt. Esterhaus always ended the morning briefing with "Let's be careful out there." After Conrad died, he was eventually replaced by Robert Prosky as Sgt. Stan Jablonski, whose more Sessionsesque catchphrase was, "Let's do it to them before they do it to us."
It's a meaner America. Guess we must be pretty goddamn great.
And that's it from us today. It's your OPEN THREAD.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.