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January 6, 2021

Do the Georgia run-off Senate results dramatically shift the criminal justice reform landscape?

With Georgia election results this morning suggesting hat we will soon have a 50-50 Senate that puts Democrats functionally in control of all of Congress, I think the answer to the question in the title of this post has to be yes.  That said, I was reasonably bullish on at least some federal criminal justice reforms in the next Congress even if the GOP held a slim majority in the Senate.  But, as this Axios piece highlights, the results in Georgia may have an immediate impact on the look of Prez-elect Biden's Justice Department:

Between the lines: It'd be tough to go big with a 50-50 Senate, so don't assume a substantial shift.  But Democratic control would be a massive blow to Republican hopes of blowing up anything they truly loathe.

👀 What we're watching: Biden sources tell Axios he now can go more progressive on remaining Cabinet picks, notably attorney general and secretary of Labor.

Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general who was fired by Trump, could now go back on the table to be Biden's attorney general.

Aside from who is in charge at the Justice Department, I think a 50-50 Senate makes it somewhat more likely that DOJ would be somewhat more willing to take somewhat more progressive positions on an array of criminal justice reform issues.  And, of course, lots of appointments that require Senate confirmation, from judges at all levels to nominees to the US Sentencing Commission to all sort of other impactful governmental roles, can perhaps now be a bit more progressive.

Most fundamentally, all the agenda items that have been suggested by various reform groups (including the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force) would seem just that much more politically viable as a result of the Georgia outcomes.  I have listed here just some of my prior postings on these topics, and I suspect my future posting will necessarily incorporate heightened expectations now that Democrats seem to have even more power thanks to the Georgia run-off results.

Some prior related posts on CJUTF recommendations:

Some additional prior posts on CJ reform prospects in a Biden Administration:

January 6, 2021 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

Comments

The big change is obviously what will come to the floor. Senator Schumer will permit different bills to be considered than Senator McConnell would have. Ultimately, however, it will take bipartisan consensus sufficient to invoke cloture on any major bill. The two new Senators probably make it slightly easier to get to sixty votes as I am not sure that Perdue or Loeffler would have supported any criminal justice reform, but it is still not going to be easy.

Posted by: tmm | Jan 6, 2021 1:35:23 PM

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