“Activist” Police Consent Decrees Likely to End With Sessions, Trump

Photo: Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General; by Gage Skidmore

During the Obama administration, the United States Justice Department sued law enforcement agencies and issued nearly four times as many consent decrees than the previous Bush administration—a trend that will likely reverse with Senator Jeff Sessions, who President-elect Donald Trump plans to nominate for attorney general, according to a Fox News report.

J. Christian Adams, an election law expert, told Fox News that he believes Sessions “…will not turn law enforcement into an exercise in grandstanding…In other words, he won’t behave like his previous two predecessors,” Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder.

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Some consent decrees have received much publicity, such as those involving the Baltimore Police Department and the Ferguson (MO) Police Department. However, many of the 19 investigations carried out by the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, are less known, including most of the 6 investigations that are currently listed as “open.”

Not everyone is welcoming Sessions as a nominee for Attorney General, or his regard for consent decrees. Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund reported that, “Jeff Sessions has a decades-long record — from his early days as a prosecutor to his present role as a senator — of opposing civil rights and equality.”

However, in support of Session’s regard for “activist” consent decrees, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) reported that Sessions “will restore honor to a department that, under President Obama, perpetually pushed a political agenda while neglecting to enforce the law.”

Sen. Cornyn added, “It’s time to end the politicization of the Justice Department and start defending the rule of law.”

Yet perhaps Sessions’ own words about police consent decrees best represent his viewpoint. In a 2008 Alabama Policy Institute report, Sessions wrote: “One of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power is the issuance of expansive court decrees.”

Sessions also wrote that, “Consent decrees have a profound effect on our legal system as they constitute an end run around the democratic process”—which could be taken as a signal for a different direction in “policing” police departments, should Sessions become the next Attorney General.

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  1. TheShapeOfThings

    The rule of law is corrupted by politicians. Human beings have no rights.

    Forgive me for offending you armed men but your right to walk into my home and molest me repeatedly as your duty at the behest of a city administrator makes you a domestic enemy.

    I hate police. Literally.

    I am a veteran that was a lieutenant on the city of Warwick fire department when I was labeled a terrorist that was threatening to kill multiple on duty firefighters and given the full cop treatment. The cops knew I did not commit the crime but arrested me because of foreign terror threats, they felt obligated to molest me in my home multiple times.

    I am waiting for one of you American heroes to put a bullet in my head and finish the job. Feel free, it would be better than living in your hell.

    Barry J LaFleur.

  2. ahaz

    Interesting that ensuring police departments do their jobs within the law and the constitution is considered activist. Somehow people on this site assume these investigations occur without reason as if by magic. The truth is, it’s the actions of the departments that trigger these investigations. To use your own logic, if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t mind having someone looking.

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