Federal Courts and Nominations

RELEASE: Trump Caves to Pressure, Nominates Permanent AG

CAC President Elizabeth Wydra: “Clearly the pressure over President Trump’s unconstitutional appointment of Whitaker reached a boiling point. The Senate’s duty to provide advice and consent as to who serves as U.S. Attorney General is as old as the Constitution, but leave it to this President to make what should be routine respect for the rule of law into a federal case.”

WASHINGTON, DC – On news this morning that President Trump has nominated William Barr to serve as U.S. Attorney General—even as Matthew Whitaker continues to perform the duties of Attorney General after Trump forced former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign—Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra issued the reaction below. CAC, together with Protect Democracy, represents Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) in their federal court challenge to President Trump’s appointment of Whitaker as a violation of the Constitution’s Appointments Clause.

Clearly the pressure over President Trump’s unconstitutional appointment of Whitaker reached a boiling point. The Senate’s duty to provide advice and consent as to who serves as U.S. Attorney General is as old as the Constitution, but leave it to this President to make what should be routine respect for the rule of law into a federal case.

I am proud that CAC is working with Protect Democracy to represent Senators Blumenthal, Whitehouse, and Hirono to hold President Trump accountable on the Whitaker nomination. Make no mistake, Whitaker’s appointment as Acting Attorney General is as unconstitutional today as it was when Trump first made it a month ago. Whitaker should step aside immediately.

The nomination of William Barr, meanwhile, allows the Senate to scrutinize Barr’s record very closely. Senators must be convinced he possesses the traits of independence from President Trump as well as a demonstrated commitment to ensuring the Administration adheres to the text, history, and values of the whole Constitution—including the Equal Protection Clause, the manifold textual protections of the right to vote free from discrimination, and anti-corruption measures such as the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses. Given the nominee’s record and recent writings, those essential traits are very much in question.

The Department of Justice is (in its own words) “the world’s largest law office and the chief enforcer of federal laws.” It has a duty—as part of our nation’s ongoing progress toward equal and impartial justice—to help realize principles embedded in the U.S. Constitution, and reflected in a long list of federal laws that help enforce constitutional guarantees. To date, the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice has failed to meet that duty.

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Resources:

Blumenthal, et al. v. Whitaker: https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/blumenthal-et-al-v-whitaker/

“The red flags on Trump’s new attorney general pick, William Barr,” Washington Post, December 7, 2018: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/12/06/trumps-new-top-attorney-general-pick-once-called-more-clinton-probes-downplayed-trump-russia-collusion/

CAC letter to Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, January 6, 2017: https://www.theusconstitution.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/20170106-Nomination-Sessions-Senate-Judiciary-Committee-Letter.pdf

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Now in our tenth year, Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit the new CAC website at www.theusconstitution.org.

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