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The desperate need for Jeff Sessions to turn DOJ's Civil Rights Division upside down has never been on more vivid display than in the juxtaposition of the following stories.

In the first, we see that, under DOJ's consent decree with crime-ridden Baltimore, one subject of considerable attention is the need for police to use the correct pronoun when they interact with citizens.  PowerLine repeats the relevant portion of the decree:

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. Proof of the person's gender identity, such as an identification card, will not be required. 

To the best of my knowledge (readers please correct me if I'm wrong), there has not been a single episode of murder, robbery or mugging in Baltimore's 288 year history because the police used the wrong pronoun in referring to a gay, bi, or transgender person.

The second story provides a different slant on what Baltimore police might attend to instead of pronouns.


Sessions' First Speech as Attorney General...

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...is less than three minutes and to the point.  My take-away is this:  Wishful thinking is out, hard thinking is in. Endless, mushy conferences are out, targeted action is in. We have a serious problem with rising crime, and we will use the full forces of the Department to deal with it.

This is almost enough to make me want to sign back up as an Assistant US Attorney. Almost.

The Attorney General's remarks, with the President listening, are here.
A picture is still worth a thousand words.
Sen. Sessions' farewell speech to the Senate, and his appreciation of his new responsibilities, is here.

Key line:  "This is a law enforcement office, first and foremost."

Attorney General Sessions

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Jeff Sessions has been confirmed as United States Attorney General, 52-47.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted yes, and Senator Sessions himself voted "present."  All others voted down party lines.

That is most unfortunate.  Jeff Sessions is a well-qualified nominee, and the attacks on him have been shown to be spurious, yet only one Senator from the opposition party has the spine to cross the aisle.
Wondering why the Senate leadership has not held the confirmation vote for Jeff Sessions as Attorney General yet?  Ted Barrett and Tom LoBianco at CNN suggest an answer.

The nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education has been scheduled for tomorrow.  Two Republican Senators have bailed.  If the vote is 50-50, Vice President Pence will cast the tie-breaking vote, the first such Veep vote on a cabinet nominee in history.

If that vote came in the gap between Senator Sessions resigning from the Senate to take the helm at DoJ and Gov. Bentley's naming of a successor, Ms. DeVos's nomination would go down 50-49.

Sessions Nomination Moves to the Floor

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Why Trump Had to Fire Sally Yates

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Prof. Josh Blackman has this article at Politico with the above title:

Democrats are calling it the Monday Night Massacre. On Monday evening, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates announced that under her leadership, the Justice Department would not defend President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration. After acknowledging that the Office of Legal Counsel had reviewed the policy, and noting that the Civil Division could defend it in court, she personally rebuffed the president's judgment, which she did not find "wise or just." Yates, a career prosecutor appointed by Barack Obama, is now being hailed for standing up to a supposedly "tyrannical" president, according to a statement blasted out by the Democratic National Committee.

But this has it wrong. If Yates truly felt this way, she should have told the president her conclusions in confidence. If he disagreed, she had one option: resign. Instead, she made herself a political martyr and refused to comply. Trump obliged, and replaced her with the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Dana Boente. While this late-night termination may bring to mind President Richard Nixon's infamous "Saturday Night Massacre," the analogy is inapt. This is a textbook case of insubordination, and the president was well within his constitutional powers to fire her. Call it the Monday Night Layoff instead.
In a stunning statement of journalistic ignorance, James Hohmann writes in the WaPo's Daily 202: "The decision to fire Yates also raises profound questions about Trump's view of the judiciary as an independent branch of government."   Red hot news flash, Mr. Hohmann, the Department of Justice is in the executive branch.   Whatever else the controversy may mean, it has nothing whatever to do with the independence of the judiciary.
The Klan's main goal in life is to deprive black people of the ordinary rights of citizenship, dignity and equality that white people take for granted.  At its best  --  "best" being viewed from the Klan perspective  --  the organization attacks not merely the rights but the lives of African Americans.  Jim Crow was a substantial accomplishment, sure, but the crown jewel was lynching!  Why merely intimidate blacks when you can murder them?

Even now, when the Klan has been mostly subdued (but cf. Dylann Roof), murder of black men is still a national scandal.  The culprit has changed, however.  It's not the machinations of the Klan.  It's a poisoned culture in our big cities, north and south, that tolerates and breeds drug dealing, thugishness, violence and murder.  Young black men are, to a grossly disproportionate extent, its victims.

The Klan must be thrilled.  They now have a whole culture, not merely in the South but across the country, that will do their work for them.  Liberals hold dithering conferences to talk to each other in Very Earnest Tones about "compassion" while murder of black people skyrockets.

But danger is lurking.  Indeed, it comes up in a Senate hearing tomorrow.

Green Light for the Habeas Fast Track

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When the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 was enacted, the "fast track" under Chapter 154 was thought to be among the primary reforms.  In essence, states which provided qualified and adequately funded counsel for their state collateral reviews in capital cases (which is not constitutionally required) were promised an expedited trip through federal habeas corpus.

Many obstacles have prevented the implementation of this chapter as originally conceived.  First, the original chapter had a hostile reception in the courts, as the courts which would be subject to its deadlines misconstrued it to avoid applying it.  In 2006, Congress amended the law to abrogate some specific misinterpretations and to take the decision of whether a state qualified away from the conflicted habeas courts and give it to the U.S. Attorney General with review by the D.C. Circuit.  The AG was further charged with adopting regulations to implement the statute.

Sessions Confirmation Delayed

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Seung Min Kim reports for Politico:

The powerful panel officially agreed to delay the official committee vote on his nomination due to requests from Democrats, who said they wanted more time to review Sessions and the paperwork surrounding his nomination. The vote will now be Jan. 31, and his nomination will head to the Senate floor after that.
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With support from Republicans, Sessions is expected to be confirmed when his nomination comes to the Senate floor, despite limited Democratic support.

White House Website

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The White House website was switched over in a flash about an hour ago.  The techies were ready.  Naturally, I went to the law enforcement page first.  Here is the last paragraph:

It is the first duty of government to keep the innocent safe, and President Donald Trump will fight for the safety of every American, and especially those Americans who have not known safe neighborhoods for a very long time.
I like that "first duty" line.  I have been saying similar things for a long time.  I also like the recognition that it is people of modest means who suffer most from crime.  I've said that a lot also.  The well-heeled can wax eloquently about giving thugs fourth chances from the safety of their safe neighborhoods, gated communities, and sophisticated security systems.  Regular folks need to take a more practical view of human nature.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General next Tuesday.

DOJ Inspector General to Investigate Comey

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JIm Comey, a friend and former colleague of mine from the US Attorney's Office, will be investigated by the Justice Department's Inspector General.

Comey was in an impossible position in this election.  The very worthwhile tradition in the Department and the FBI is not to influence a campaign  --  something a free country must honor.  But, as Paul Mirengoff describes here, Comey was damned no matter what he did.

Comey would have conferred a big advantage on Trump if he had decided to recommend prosecuting Clinton -- a decision that, in my view, would easily have been defensible.

Comey would have conferred a big advantage on Clinton if, having decided against prosecuting her, he had declined to explain the basis of his decision to the American people and to Congress, and then refused to meet his promise to advise Congress if the FBI re-opened its investigation. A refusal to explain would have created the false impression that Clinton had not acted with great carelessness.

By taking a middle course -- not prosecuting but being transparent -- Comey probably came as close as he could have to not tilting the election in favor of either candidate. This doesn't mean he acted properly. It does suggest that, if one recognizes the full context of Comey's actions and the complexity of the situation, they are not really inconsistent with the "don't help or hurt a candidate" tradition he is accused of violating.

Sessions AG Hearing Tuesday

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The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.  So far, the only live broadcast link I have found is audio at Capitol Hearings, a service of C-SPAN.

Update:  The hearing will be shown live online at C-SPAN 3.
Veteran Supreme Court reporter Tony Mauro reports for NLJ that the Court's bar is warming up to the possibility that George Conway of  Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz may be the next Solicitor General.  His abilities are being praised by many, and the fact that he has only argued one case in the high court is virtually irrelevant.

The fact that Conway has only argued once at the Supreme Court is not rare or disqualifying, according to Yale Law School scholar Lincoln Caplan, author of "The Tenth Justice," a 1997 book about the solicitor general's office. The newest justice, Elena Kagan, had never appeared in an appellate court before, and other 20th century SGs, including Robert Bork and Archibald Cox, had limited prior Supreme Court litigation experience.

The expectation that a new SG should be a veteran at the Supreme Court lectern, Caplan said, is the result of the "reconstitution" of the specialized Supreme Court bar. Decades ago, academics were often selected for the job, and "there was an expectation of intellectual capacity," not that they be able to argue a case on Day One. "You could be a great solicitor general and not argue a single case," leaving that chore to deputies in the office, Caplan said.
As I have noted before, oral argument is vastly overrated.  Justice Breyer says it is 2% of the Court's work, which sounds about right.

I had the pleasure of working with George on an amicus brief in the Second Circuit almost twelve years ago.  The question was whether the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits felon disenfranchisement laws so that even a convicted murderer in prison for life can vote from the slammer.  We prevailed (see Hayden v. Pataki, 449 F.3d 305), but the pro-murderer-voting crowd surprisingly got 5 votes on the 13-judge en banc court.

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