Justice Department Sues Georgia Over GOP Voting Restrictions

A prosecutor in Georgia is reportedly in the early stages of investigating Donald Trump for attempting to overturn the election results in the state
Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced the Justice Department will sue the state of Georgia over new voting laws that allegedly discriminate against Black voters
(image via Depositphotos)

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced the Department of Justice is suing the state of Georgia over its recently passed voting restrictions,

According to the DOJ, the new law passed earlier this year was “enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote.”

From Axios:

It’s the first major action the Biden administration has taken in response to the wave of voting restrictions that Republican-led states have sought to impose in the wake of President Biden’s election.

In a major policy speech earlier this month, Garland pledged to make voting rights a top priority, doubling the number of enforcement staff dedicated to protecting the right to vote.

The lawsuit is being overseen by Kristen Clarke, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Karlan.

Garland also announced Friday that DOJ is launching a task force to investigate and respond to threats against election officials.

News Round-Up: June 11, 2021

(screen capture via dash camera footage)

Some news items you might have missed:

USA Today: An Arkansas woman says she had no safe place to pull over in July 2020 when a state trooper tried to stop her for speeding, so she turned on her hazard lights and slowed down. Moments later, the officer rammed her vehicle, causing it to flip over and injuring the woman, who was pregnant at the time, according to a lawsuit filed in May.

Washington Post: Donald Trump’s Justice Department secretly subpoenaed Apple for the data of two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as the data of their current and former staffers and family members, in an aggressive push by the Trump administration to determine who was leaking classified information to the news media, according to a committee official.

CNN: Darnella Frazier was honored by the Pulitzer Prize Board today “for courageously recording the murder of George Floyd, a video that spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”


New York Times: During a recent visit to Argentina by the prime minister of Spain, President Alberto Fernández tried to connect with his guest by paying (xenophobic) homage to Argentina’s European immigrant heritage. “Mexicans emerged from Indigenous people, Brazilians emerged from the jungle but we Argentines arrived on boats. On boats from Europe.” #SwingAndMiss

Raw Story: A Proud Boy charged with taking part in the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building January 6 requested pre-trial release from jail claiming ‘chronic back pain.’ But according to prosecutors, his back pain didn’t stop him from wielding an axe handle against Capitol Police officers.

Twitter: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is calling out corporations who are flaunting their support for Pride Month while they also donate to the campaigns of anti-LGBTQ politicians.

Justice Department Condemned For Defending Anti-LGBTQ Colleges

Judge Merrick Garland
Judge Merrick Garland
Attorney General Merrick Garland (photo: Public Domain)

Folks are getting angry about a court filing by the Department of Justice where it appears the DOJ could be defending religious schools against LGBTQ students who say they are being discriminated against.

From the Washington Post:

The Justice Department in a court filing Tuesday said it can “vigorously” defend a religious exemption from federal civil rights law that allows federally funded religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students, a move that surprised some LGBTQ advocates who said the wording went further than just an obligation to defend an existing law.

In the filing, the Biden administration said it “shares the same ultimate objective” as the conservative Christian schools named in the case.

“What this means is that the government is now aligning itself with anti-LGBTQ hate in order to vigorously defend an exemption that everyone knows causes severe harm to LGBTQ students using taxpayer money,” said Paul Carlos Southwick, director of the Religious Exemption Accountability Project, which filed the case in March on behalf of dozens of current and past students at conservative religious colleges and universities. “It will make our case harder if the federal government plans to vigorously defend it like they have indicated.”

The case at hand, Hunter v. the U.S. Department of Education, involves 40 LGBTQ students from religious colleges and universities who have filed suit against the government for providing funding to schools with discriminatory policies.

The schools, however, are playing the First Amendment rights card saying they have a right to discriminate against queer students via their traditional religious beliefs about sexuality and gender.

While it sounds like the Justice Department has thrown us under the bus, over on Michelangelo Signorile’s website LGBTQ civil rights lawyer Jillian Weiss took a look and says this may not be as bleak as it seems:

“As I read the brief, DOJ is trying to prevent religious colleges from taking over the case. They would certainly argue outlier positions that a newly conservative Supreme Court would love to scoop us.

“Sure, 28 USC 1681(a)(3) is bogus: “this section shall not apply to an educational institution which is controlled by a religious organization if the application of this subsection would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.”

“But I would prefer Garland’s DOJ to handle this any day of the week rather than the proposed religious intervenors.”

Trump Considered Firing Acting AG, Using Justice Dept To Overturn Georgia Election Results

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Donald Trump (photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr – CC License)

According to a new report, Jeffrey Clark, the acting head of the civil division at the end of the Trump administration, supported Donald Trump’s plans of undermining the 2020 presidential election and using the Department of Justice to pressure Georgia officials to change the state’s election results.

From the New York Times:

The department’s senior leaders were shocked when Mr. Clark’s machinations came to light. They have spent recent weeks debating how he came to betray Mr. Rosen, his biggest champion at the department, and what blend of ambition and conviction led him to reject the results of the election and embrace Mr. Trump’s claims, despite all evidence to the contrary, including inside the department itself.

The plot devised by Mr. Clark and Mr. Trump would have ousted Mr. Rosen and used the Justice Department to pressure lawmakers in Georgia to overturn the state’s election results. But Mr. Trump ultimately decided against firing Mr. Rosen after top department leaders pledged to resign en masse.

Senior Justice department officials, including Rosen, former Attorney General William Barr and former acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall repeatedly refused to file a case with the Supreme Court case since there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

The Times goes on to quote colleagues of Clark who were stunned to find out about the plan.

“The story kind of shocked me because this is not the Jeff that I know,” said Theodore H. Frank, a friend and former co-worker.

A Justice Department watchdog is now apparently investigating the matter.

Read the full report at the New York Times.

Former Judge Calls DOJ Attempt To Drop Flynn Charges ‘Gross Abuse Of Power’

Michael Flynn (photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

A former federal judge asked to look into the Justice Department’s highly unusual request to drop its criminal case against Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s first national security advisor, did not demure in his assessment calling the move a “gross abuse of prosecutorial power.”

From CNBC:

“The Government has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President,” the ex-judge, John Gleeson, wrote in a scathing legal filing opposing the proposed dismissal. Trump has strongly criticized the prosecution of Flynn.

Gleeson, who was assigned by the judge in Flynn’s case to advise him on several questions, also wrote that the retired Army lieutenant general “has indeed committed perjury” in his statements to the case judge during proceedings in the case, “for which he deserves punishment.”

But Gleeson added that while federal Judge Emmet Sullivan has the power to hold Flynn in criminal contempt for perjuring himself during a plea hearing and another hearing conducted by Sullivan, the judge should “not exercise that authority.”

“Rather, [Sullivan] should take Flynn’s perjury into account in sentencing him on the offense to which he has already admitted guilt,” Gleeson wrote in a filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Twice under oath, Flynn admitted to lying to FBI agents about his discussions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States prior to Trump’s inauguration.

In the end, all of this won’t matter. Trust and believe, the Donald will issue a pardon for Flynn.

#LockHimUp

1,100 Former Justice Department Officials Call On AG Barr To Resign

Attorney General Bill Barr (image via Flickr/WhiteHouse – public domain)

From The Hill:

More than 1,100 former Department of Justice (DOJ) officials are calling for Attorney General William Barr to resign in the wake of the DOJ’s decision to ask for a shorter prison sentence for Roger Stone, a longtime ally and friend of President Trump.

“Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words,” the group of ex-officials wrote in a letter shared on Sunday by Protect Democracy, a nonprofit watchdog group. “Those actions, and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice’s reputation for integrity and the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign.”

The public statement arrived as Barr and the Justice Department face increased scrutiny over their actions in the Stone case. Four prosecutors resigned from the case last week, and one left the job altogether after Barr and other DOJ leaders asked for a lighter prison sentence than the one the front-line prosecutors initially recommended.

Stone’s trial was born out of evidence found during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference. A jury found Stone guilty of all seven charges brought against him.

DOJ Reassigns Prison Warden After Epstein Suicide

The Washington Post is reporting the warden of the federal jail where accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein died of an apparent suicide over the weekend has been reassigned.

Additionally, two employees who were supposed to have been monitoring Epstein’s unit have been placed on administrative leave.

The move comes a day after Attorney General William P. Barr decried what he called a “failure” by officials at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan to secure the multimillionaire sex offender. In leveling his criticism, Barr cited unspecified “irregularities” at the facility.

On Tuesday, Barr “directed the Bureau of Prisons to temporarily assign” warden Lamine N’Diaye to a regional office, pending the outcome of internal investigations into Epstein’s death, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Two staffers who were assigned to Epstein’s unit at the time of his death were placed on administrative leave, the department said.

Justice Department: Anti-LGBT Discrimination Is Legal Under Federal Law

On the same day that Donald Trump unexpectedly announced a ban on transgender soldiers in the U.S. military, his Justice Department filed a friend-of-the-court brief declaring anti-LGBT discrimination is lawful in a current employment discrimination case

From Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:

In a 23-page brief, the Justice Department under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rejects the notion that sexual-orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“The essential element of sex discrimination under Title VII is that employees of one sex must be treated worse than similarly situated employees of the other sex, and sexual orientation discrimination simply does not have that effect,” the brief says. “Moreover, whatever this Court would say about the question were it writing on a blank slate, Congress has made clear through its actions and inactions in this area that Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination does not encompass sexual orientation discrimination. Other statutes and rules may prohibit such discrimination, but Title VII does not do so as a matter of law, and whether it should do so as a matter of policy remains a question for Congress to decide.”

Although the Justice Department under the Obama administration never took an official view on whether sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited under Title VII, the brief effectively turns a Justice Department that once argued for protections for LGBT people into an institution that seeks to undermine them.

The reasoning in the brief contrasts with the determination of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the independent agency charged with enforcing federal workplace civil rights laws. In 2015, the EEOC found in the case of Baldwin v. Foxx anti-gay discrimination constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII.

Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, issued this statement, “In one fell swoop, Trump’s DOJ has provided a roadmap for dismantling years of federal protections and declared that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people may no longer be protected by landmark civil rights laws such as the Fair Housing Act, Title IX, or Title VII.”

Here’s a recap of actions the Trump administration has taken against LGBT folks since Trump was inaugurated.

But remember, Donald Trump promised during the 2016 campaign how much “better” for the gays he would be than Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton Interviewed For 3+ Hours By FBI On Her Use Of Private Email Server

"Secretary Clinton gave a voluntary interview this morning about her email arrangements while she was Secretary. She is pleased to have had the opportunity to assist the Department of Justice in bringing this review to a conclusion. Out of respect for the investigative process, she will not comment further on her interview."

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton interviewed this morning by the FBI for 3.5 hours at the agency’s DC headquarters regarding the use of a private email server in her home during her tenure at the State Department.

Most legal experts are of the opinion that criminal prosecution is exceedingly unlikely. The interview today looks to be one of the last steps in the year long investigation.

Reactions To Education And Justice Department Guidelines On Trangsgender Students

This morning, the U.S. Justice and Education Departments issued joint guidelines to public schools on how transgender students should be treated and protected from discrimination.

Groups from across the political spectrum weighed in immediately.

From the Human Rights Campaign:

“These groundbreaking guidelines not only underscore the Obama administration’s position that discriminating against transgender students is flat-out against the law, but they provide public school districts with needed and specific guidance guaranteeing that transgender students should be using facilities consistent with their gender identity,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This is a truly significant moment not only for transgender young people but for all young people, sending a message that every student deserves to be treated fairly and supported by their teachers and schools.”

From Campus Pride:

“President Obama has affirmed today the lives of transgender young people and that they deserve human dignity and respect for who they are,” said Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride. “Saving lives of trans youth means taking action and responsibility to ensure their safety in schools. We applaud President Obama for his leadership and these guidelines that make it clear that discrimination toward transgender students is against the law. There is now direction, without any doubt, for public and federally funded colleges and universities that trans students are entitled to using facilities consistent with their gender identity.”

From the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund:

“This is a big day for the transgender community. It means that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights will accept allegations of discrimination, investigate them, and may bring claims in federal court. The other implication — especially with regard to North Carolina’s HB2 — is that the federal government will leave no stone unturned when enforcing already existing civil rights laws against illegal sex discrimination. This sends a clear message for the repeal of HB2 and to other states that are currently considering discriminatory legislation. This is very good news for the advancement of LGBTQ freedom, justice, equity and equality,” said Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán, J.D., Director, Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.

And, of course, the haters are howling.

From the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate:

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick spoke to NBC 5 soon after the directive was first reported, saying, “This will be the beginning of the end of the public school system as we know it.”

Patrick compared the guidance from leaders at the departments of Education and Justice to a recent guideline from the Fort Worth school district superintendent meant to accommodate transgender students.

“President Obama, in the dark of the night – without consulting Congress, without consulting educators, without consulting parents – decides to issue an executive order, like this superintendent, forcing transgender policies on schools and on parents who clearly don’t want it,” Patrick told NBC 5.

Port Neches-Groves Superintendent Dr. Rodney Cavness in Texas (via ABC):

“I got news for President Barack Obama. He ain’t my President and he can’t tell me what to do. That letter is going straight to the paper shredder. I have 5 daughters myself and I have 2,500 girls in my protection. Their moms and dads expect me to protect them. And that is what I am going to do. Now I don’t want them bullied, but there are accommodations that can be made short of this. He is destroying the very fiber of this country. He is not a leader. He is a failure.”

You’ll note: NOW they bring up “accommodations?” Before it was an executive order, the haters said trans kids had to just suck it up and deal with it. NOW they bring up accommodations.

Anti-LGBT activist Tony Perkins sent this out via email begging for money (why does he need money to stand up to something?):

Protect Our Children! The Obama administration is ramping up its efforts to force public schools to allow students to use the restroom and locker rooms of the opposite sex. Boys who are clearly boys would be free to use the girls’ facilities and vice versa.

And if parents and students object? They are either ignored or vilified as bigots. It’s all part of the U.S. Department of Education’s “Title IX Mandates” (Title IX is part of the U.S. Education Code governing federal rules for education).

These rules have been revised to provide special protections for “transgenderism” — boys or men who perceive on any given day they identify as a female, or women and girls who perceive they are male.

You’ll note how Perkins uses language like “boys or men who perceive on any given day they identify as a female.” No, Tony Perkins, transgender females don’t switch their gender identity on a whim.

If some straight, male predator puts on a dress to go into a ladies room and he doesn’t actually identify as female then these protections will not apply. These guidelines are for transgender students who are simply trying to live their lives (and use the bathroom).