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March 10, 2021

With Merrick Garland now finally confirmed as the next US Attorney General, might another DOJ charging and sentencing memo be soon forthcoming?

As reported in this CNBC piece, the US Senate "on Wednesday voted to confirm Merrick Garland as attorney general, placing the longtime federal appeals court judge and one-time Supreme Court pick at the helm of an agency central to President Joe Biden’s domestic policy agenda. The vote was 70-30." Here is more:

Garland takes over as the head of the Department of Justices as the sprawling agency continues to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, one of the largest probes in its history. Garland has called the inquiry his No. 1 priority.

The Justice Department will also be crucial in enacting Biden’s sweeping plans for civil rights enforcement and criminal justice reform. The department is likely to make important decisions in the coming years concerning regulation of the nation’s largest technology companies, which some lawmakers are pushing to break up.

Garland’s pledged to defend the independence of the Justice Department during hearings before the judiciary committee last month. Biden has made restoring the traditional distance between the department and political officials at the White House a top priority....

Before Biden tapped Garland to be attorney general, the centrist lawyer was nominated by former President Barack Obama to a seat on the Supreme Court in 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Republicans at the time controlled the Senate, and refused to hold a hearing on his nomination.

Several other top Justice Department nominees are still being considered by the Senate, including Vanita Gupta, Kristen Clarke and Lisa Monaco.  Gupta and Monaco faced questions from senators on Tuesday. Gupta, who led the Justice Department’s civil rights division under Obama, is nominated to become associate attorney general.  Clarke is nominated to be the head of the civil rights division. Biden nominated Monaco to be deputy attorney general.

As the title of this post ponders, I cannot help but wonder if a new confirmed Attorney General might soon result in a new permanent Justice Department charging and sentencing memorandum.  As noted in this post six weeks ago, less than 10 days after Prez Biden took office, acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson rescinded the May 2017 charging/sentencing memo put in place by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.   This one-page Wilkinson memo said it was an "interim measure before Senate-confirmed leadership is in place at the Department."  Though we still await confirmation of the rest of DOJ leadership, Garland's confirmation brings us much closer to having permanent new DOJ leadership in place for possibly redirecting DOJ sentencing policies and practices.

Some (of many) prior related posts on DOJ charging and sentencing guidance:

March 10, 2021 at 04:06 PM | Permalink


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