by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
There may be no harder job in the U.S. government than Attorney General. What makes it uniquely challenging? On the one hand, the Attorney General is a political position which is responsible for executing the White House’s policy agenda. But on the other, the Attorney General and the Department of Justice he or she leads is responsible for enforcing the law in an even-handed and neutral fashion without partisan considerations.
Today, public trust in the Department of Justice is rapidly deteriorating on multiple fronts due to what increasingly appears to be selective enforcement. Merrick Garland has the opportunity – and I would argue, the obligation — to re-instill confidence in the Department of Justice, but he needs to move fast.
When enforcing the law, the Attorney General must take into consideration prudential reasons for bringing a case or not – he or she must consider whether “the juice is worth the squeeze” given the precedent it might set, a domino effect in may cause, or a question about fairness it could raise. Some may call this politics. Others call it life. There is no law school textbook or statutory code that governs this “gray” – yet, it is this gray that is integral to the role of Attorney General. …
… Why did the US Attorney in DC decline to prosecute 67 percent of people arrested in Washington last year? The Washington Post called this “startling.” Since DC violent crime is significantly up – murder alone by almost 30 percent – and the DC US Attorney is a unique office responsible for prosecuting both federal and local crime, are you concerned about what is happening – or not happening – out of the office down the street from you?
Are you committed to devoting the same resources and vigor to fighting violent crime Washington and in cities across America as you are towards January 6th offenders? The DC US Attorneys website is dominated by January 6th updates and very little on the murders and crime that is ravaging the city.