A number of Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers appointed by previous administrations have resigned to avoid dismantling the liberal agenda pursued under former President Barack Obama, according to The New York Times.
“Yet the new direction has also met some resistance among rank-and-file civil servants. Within the Justice Department, several long-serving lawyers have decided to retire or quit rather than help carry out the new policies,” people briefed on the departures told TheNYTimes.
“Some of these lawyers also faced the unpalatable task of undoing their work defending Obama-era regulations, such as those on birth control and transgender rights. Rather than help roll back those rules, the officials decided to leave the government” TheNYTimes reported.
The article points out that turnover is to be expected with a new administration, but it makes the case that the Trump administration is particularly vulnerable to ideologically motivated departures, as many of the liberal retirees served under previous Republican administrations but find themselves unable to carry out President Donald Trump’s agenda.
“While turnover is natural after an election, some of these departing lawyers worked at the department through previous Republican administrations — under Ronald Reagan and both Bushes — and they have privately told colleagues that recent changes twist the law in directions that make them uncomfortable,” TheNYT writes.
One of these “recent changes” pertains to regulations normally used to prosecute businesses being used to punish “sanctuary cities” for not cooperating with federal immigration enforcement efforts. A number of veteran lawyers reportedly objected to the move, arguing it was over reaching and “not legally justifiable.”
The article notes that the Trump administration has been particularly receptive to input from social conservative and religious groups, quoting a number of leaders within such organizations as celebrating their newfound access to the White House.
Many of the disenchanted lawyers are reportedly concerned about the administration’s elimination of specific protections for the LGBTQ community — specifically, the DOJ’s removal of references to LGBTQ youth from a description of a federal program aimed at preventing child sex trafficking.
The article cites increased spending by groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, to demonstrate the recent wave of conservative enthusiasm.
While a number of DOJ lawyers have left their posts in protest, many have remained out of fear that they might leave a vacancy for a more conservative replacement.
“Some are absolutely staying because they feel like they’re afraid of who’d get put in their seat if they left,” former DOJ civil rights attorney Sharon McGowan told TheNYTimes.
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