The Department of Justice has used court-enforced agreements to protect civil rights for years. It’s allowed the desegregation of schools, reformed police departments and several other landmark achievements. Jeff Sessions has been Attorney General for two minutes and he’s already undoing these steps of progress. Sessions now wants top officials in the DOJ civil rights division to seek settlements to prevent this from happening anymore.
This is yet another attempt to limit federal civil rights enforcement. Vanita Gupta, the former head of the DOJ’s civil rights division said, “At best, this administration believes that civil rights enforcement is superfluous and can be easily cut. At worst, it really is part of a systematic agenda to roll back civil rights.”
Now, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ appears to be turning away from this storied tool, called consent decrees. Top officials in the DOJ civil rights division have issued verbal instructions through the ranks to seek settlements without consent decrees — which would result in no continuing court oversight.
Reaching settlements without consent decrees limits the instructions issued to remedy the issues at hand and that’s exactly what Sessions wants. Consent decrees have to be agreed upon by both parties and signed off on by a judge and while they aren’t always enforced completely, they provide more progress than settlements that aren’t overseen at all.
William Yeomans, who spent 26 years at the DOJ, said consent decrees, “are key to civil rights enforcement… That’s why Sessions and his ilk don’t like them.”
The DOJ is already following protocol and making settlements. Sessions has ordered a review of all consent decrees with troubled police departments and voting rights cases.
All of these changes have left attorneys and staff confused and worried Sessions will undo all of their progress. The civil rights office is not the only office Trump is screwing over, but it has been the one they’ve been most sneaky about.
Basically, Trump’s administration is working to cut all civil rights branches across the board. Within the education department, Betsy Devos proposed cutting 40 positions and others are following suit.
Essentially, unless you are a white male, Trump doesn’t want government money spent to protect your rights.
Check out the extensive report on the matter over at ProPublica.