Thursday, March 30, 2023

When America needs a "warrior" attorney general, the meek Merrick Garland is missing in action, allowing lawlessness to reign at Southern Company and beyond

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is ineffectual at his job, and President Joe Biden should replace him, according to an opinion piece from longtime Alabama attorney and businessman Donald Watkins. Garland's deficiencies probably hit home for Watkins in a personal way. Via his Web site, Watkins has used his investigative abilities -- honed over an almost 50-year career in the law -- to break numerous profoundly important stories related to the long-running racketeering and accounting-fraud schemes at Southern Company.

Watkins' online journalism has produced the kinds of revelatory, even shocking, stories that should spark a real attorney general to action. But Garland does not seem to be that kind of person. The U.S. Department of Justice, on his watch, seems to be in perpetual sleep mode -- doing little or nothing as corporate lawlessness reigns at Southern Company and beyond. An apparent willingness to let corporate crooks off the hook should disqualify Garland for his position, Writes Watkins, under the title "Where In The Hell Is Attorney General Merrick Garland?":

Americans of color, women, children, LGBTQIA Americans, and the elderly are losing every legal right they have won in Congress and the courts since 1865. At the same time, our children are being slaughtered in public and private schools across America, with no federal law-enforcement solution in sight.

Why is U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland afraid to stand up and fight hard for us? Why is he always crying whenever his Department of Justice handlers trot him out for a speech or statement on TV?

Merrick Garland is absolutely the wrong person for the attorney general's job at this critical moment in our nation's history. If we needed a bourbon-drinking, martini-sipping friend to pontificate about esoteric things during "Happy Hour" in Washington, Garland would be our guy.

But, here's our real situation: President Joe Biden is old, weak, tired, and senile. What is worse, Merrick Garland is weak, tired, and unfocused.

In short, Watkins writes, Biden and Garland are not a good combination on matters of justice, especially for everyday Americans:

For example, more than two years after Biden assumed office as president, Merrick Garland still employs avowed Trump loyalists and modern-day white supremacists in key DOJ positions in Alabama and other Deep South states. This faux pas is inexcusable.

Because Biden is the weakest president since Herbert Hoover, he needs a Pit Bull as his Attorney General. Merrick Garland is NOT that guy. Whenever Garland appears in public, it feels like he is getting ready to bolt from the room for a cocktail party.

As regular readers know, I don't give Donald Trump credit for accomplishing much of anything. But Watkins does give him credit in one area:

Donald Trump was right about one thing: The president of the United States is the chief law enforcement official in the federal law-enforcement apparatus. The president appoints the attorney general as a member of the executive branch of government to oversee the day-to-day administration of this apparatus.

The attorney general is a cabinet member, just like the 23 other cabinet members who serve at the pleasure of the president. 

Nothing in the U.S. Constitution places Attorney General Merrick Garland beyond the supervisory reach of the president. Whoever serves in this cabinet post is directly answerable to the president.

The attorney general's job in the federal system is to advance and protect the president's public policy initiatives, using the federal legal apparatus to achieve this result. This, Merrick Garland is NOT doing.

That is not Garland's only failing, Watkins writes:

The attorney general also has a concomitant duty to enforce the labyrinth of more than 8,000 federal civil and criminal laws in a fair and just way. Merrick Garland is failing in this responsibility, as well.

Wall Street companies and their CEOs who commit crimes go free, while Main Street criminals get hammered and go to jail. Garland has sanctioned this two-tier system of justice on numerous occasions.

President Biden can replace Merrick Garland at-will, and Biden should do so immediately, while he still has lucid moments.

Right now, we need a real warrior in the Attorney General's job. Americans of color, women, children, LGBTQIA Americans, and the elderly are catching pure hell. The MAGA crowd is running roughshod over these groups in the "Red" states.

Merrick Garland is an Attorney General "in-hiding" while we are being forced back into pre-1865 living conditions. This retrogression isn't working too well for us!

Unfortunately, this is the cold, hard, truth.


Anonymous said...

What are these legal rights "won in Congress and the courts since 1865" that have now been lost?

legalschnauzer said...

The specific thought you cite originated with Donald Watkins, so it probably would be best to address your question to him. I know Donald pretty well, so I think I can make a reasonable attempt to interpret his thoughts on this subject. These ideas come to mind:

* You misquote the Watkins statement, and I think it changes the meaning of what he intended to say. You state that these rights "have now been lost." But Watkins actually said, "are losing every right they have won . . . since 1865." Watkins does not say the rights have been lost, that it's a fait accompli; rather he says the cited groups "are losing every right . . ., " that it's an ongoing process -- a "chipping away," if you will. It's Watkins opinion that this process is happening, and I suspect quite a few Americans agree with him -- even though you might not be one of them.

* Since Watkins cited 1865, I think that means he probably was focused on the rights enumerated in the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Here is a summary of that Act:

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 is notable for being the nation's first civil rights law. The act established that all persons born in the United States, regardless of race, color, or "previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude," were entitled to basic rights of citizenship "in every state and territory in the United States." The law further declared that all such individuals were entitled to the following specific rights:[1]

"to make and enforce contracts"
"to sue, be parties, and give evidence" in court
"to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property"
"to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property, as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, and penalties, and to none other"

The law also provided for the conviction and punishment of individuals who violated the law.


My interpretation is that Donald Watkins is among many Americans who sense a "chipping away" of such rights, and he probably is wise to be concerned about it.

We've written numerous times here at Legal Schnauzer about erosion of the 14th Amendment rights to "equal protection under the laws" and "due process of law."

There is no question this erosion of rights is taking place, as we have documented many times. If you are interested in researching this subject, I invite you to go to the search box in the upper left-hand corner of our home page, type in "due process and equal protection," and it will call up the many posts we've written on the subject.