January 9, 2021

Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for The Nation, threw down the gauntlet for Biden’s designated attorney general, Merrick Garland.

MYSTAL: There are four attorney generals in history who gave a damn about Black lives and about Black justice. Bobby Kennedy, Janet Reno, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch. That's the list. Edwin Meese was not out here trying to ride or die for Black lives, alright? So, what we have is the department that historically has failed in its mission and simply trying to go back to that failure is not enough, right? I think Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch did good jobs. I think Janet Reno did a good job. But we can do better than even what they were able to accomplish. There are a number of things through executive order, through consent decrees, through an entirely different level of holding police accountable that can be done through the DOJ. And I just hope Garland is up to the task. His record doesn’t necessarily suggest that he is.

The New York Times, when he was nominated to the Supreme Court, The New York TImes did an analysis. In 10 of 14 cases where police criminality or misconduct were on the line. Merrick Garland sided with law enforcement, in 10 of those 14 cases, while he was a district court judge. That's not great, alright? So maybe he’s evolved. Maybe he's ready to reach a higher level. People do change and improve. But that's what Merrick Garland has to do: change and improve. And bring the DOJ to a new level of justice and fairness.

Mystal praised some of Biden’s other picks for the DOJ. But he also called for greater enforcement of the current laws against domestic terrorism, especially right-wing terrorism or white nationalist terrorism.

MYSTAL: Domestic terrorism is our number one threat but I just want to add we do not need new laws to deal with it, alright? We do not need new federal legislation, we do not need a new surveillance state.

Insurrection is already a crime, alright? Conspiracy to commit crimes are already crimes. Felony murder is already a crime. What we need to do is not have a new surveillance state commission. What we need is to take the laws we already have and apply them to white people, for like once. Let's try it. Tastes just like chicken. But take the laws we've got and apply them to white people and see what happens because I think that's the way forward, not with new laws and new regimes and new surveillance.

This is how we make change and improvement: by keeping up the pressure on elected officials. Especially when we’re about to have a new administration that’s inclined to listen.

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