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Justice Dept. Revokes 25 Legal Guidances, Impacting Civil Rights Protections

by Countable | 12.28.17

What’s the story?

As part of the Trump administration's broader deregulation efforts, the Justice Department revoked 25 legal guidance documents which they announced December 21. Of those 25, 16 concern civil rights protections. Ten of those 16 pertain to the Americans With Disabilities Act and one, notably, is a 2016 letter urging state and local judges not to impose fines and fees in a way that locks poor people into cycles of debt and prison.

That guidance was written after a Justice Department investigation into policing in Ferguson, MO discovered that the legal system there was being used as a moneymaking venture to target poor and minority residents.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions asserted that all the rescinded guidances were "unnecessary, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper."

However, Vanita Gupta, who headed the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under President Obama and issued the letter, insisted to the New York Times that the guidance was a necessary response to localities seeking advice following the Ferguson Report on what federal civil rights and constitutional law requires.

She also cited as precedent a 1983 Supreme Court ruling which declared that local governments could not imprison people for failing to pay fines they could not afford.

Sessions maintains that the revocation of the documents was in response to President Trump’s March executive order requiring agencies remove two regulations for every one added. Sessions argued that such deregulatory action was "good government":

"Therefore, any guidance that is outdated, used to circumvent the regulatory process, or that improperly goes beyond what is provided for in statutes or regulation should not be given effect. That is why today, we are ending 25 examples of improper or unnecessary guidance documents identified by our Regulatory Reform Task Force led by our Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand. We will continue to look for other examples to rescind, and we will uphold the rule of law."

What do you think?

Do you support the administration’s push for deregulation, or not? Do you worry that the revocation of these documents signals a turning away from civil rights protections, or is the effort, as Sessions calls it "good government"?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(123)
  • Truly
    12/29/2017
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    Please stop referring to this as the justice department. It is now the Bigot Bunch. It will need to be changed on all future documents. Thanks.

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  • John
    12/29/2017
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    This yet another example of the mean spirit of this administration and further proof they want to curtail people’s civil liberties and make the disadvantaged more disadvantaged. Locking people up because they are poor I’d medieval ... this country is better than this.. sadly this administration isn’t.

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  • Jr
    12/29/2017
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    Debtor’s prisons. How forward thinking. This man is a disgrace!

    Like (56)
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  • Michael.J.L
    12/29/2017
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    Under Sessions the Justice Department has become the Injustice Department when it comes to the poor, minorities and disabled. We have been invaded and are being destroyed by our own officials from within.

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  • NoHedges
    12/29/2017
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    This is a failure in our checks and balances and the blame needs to be laid on the doorstep of every single one of the Supreme Court Justices. 45 may be moving the ball down the field but it doesn't help that the goalies are nowhere to be found. And for the record, the whole 2 for 1 may be good marketing; BUT, IT IS POOR GOVERNANCE. It should have never been passed in the first place.

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  • Laura
    12/29/2017
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    As our representatives, you should protect everyone within your constituency, as well as those who did not vote for you. These protections that Jeff Sessions has eliminated should be scrutinized by you that these protections were eliminated. Something shifty is going on and as being in one of the branches of government, you should do your jobs and question what is going on. Please start utilizing your Checks and balances boys!

    Like (28)
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  • Stallion
    12/29/2017
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    Deregulate so the wealthy and large corps can rape and pillage the lower and middle classes. We will be come an unregulated society than will run rampant until the “have nots” have had enough.

    Like (23)
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  • Betty
    12/29/2017
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    This is a travesty of justice. Sessions is a nasty, bigoted, racist, ass-kissing human being. This whole administration needs to go. It is tearing apart the rule of law, the presidency, the goodness of America and destroying our democracy. We have to get them out!

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  • NoHedges
    12/29/2017
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    Have they taken away our right to vote yet? Or is that planned for after they release a deadly virus and prior to the 2018 elections?

    Like (19)
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  • Monica
    12/29/2017
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    Why do we need fewer civil rights protections? This is asinine!!

    Like (17)
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  • Matthew
    12/29/2017
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    Another great example of autocratic beliefs mixed with Nazi ideals with a twist of First Order with a bastardized Empire invading our once great, now world wide embarrassment, country. THIS IS NOT AMERICA!!! THIS IS NOT WHAT WE STAND FOR!!!

    Like (17)
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  • SirRobert
    12/29/2017
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    On the day that Alabama certifies Jeff Sessions Republican Senate seat officially belongs to Doug Jones and given that the black voter turnout in Alabama helped to elect Doug Jones in spite of Republicans gerrymandering, the next tactic is to lock up voters or take their drivers license so they can’t vote! Sorry, it’s not going to work! The tax scam has really tipped the scales, voters will turn out in droves to VOTE EVERY REPUBLICAN OUT OF OFFICE!

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  • Jim2423
    12/29/2017
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    Well let’s just hope three and a half years goes by fast and we get a third party in office to bring us back into the country we were, once.

    Like (13)
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  • Tim
    12/29/2017
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    We know that Trump told all departments to select several regulations for cancellation. These are the ones the Justice Department, Sessions, picked, possibly because they would please Trump the most. Of course we don’t know that. But Sessions himself has had negative concerns about these regulations. Why? Do the regs help to protect people or not? Do the regs break some other law or are they in contradiction with other regs or policies? Do they cost too much money to implement? Are they not applicable to many potential situations? It appears to me that Trump’s vision of the world does not have room for those that need these protections.

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  • Jessica
    12/29/2017
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    To my Colorado representatives: Jeff sessions is wrong. Truly “good government” protects all of its citizens—not just those with money. Please do not let this administration’s insatiable hunger for deregulation hurt the American people—especially our most vulnerable.

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  • Jeanne
    12/29/2017
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    I trust nothing that Trump or his people do! They hate people ... this is not an all inclusive bunch.

    Like (8)
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  • Eric
    12/29/2017
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    Every move this administration makes proves them to be racist, sexist, shameless white nationalists. Every time the legislative branch turns a blind eye, they prove themselves to be supportive of a racist, sexist white-only nation. This is such an obvious agenda, that congress cannot claim to be unaware. They cannot claim that they are just observing. By doing nothing they are SUPPORTING this racist, sexist agenda. Germany in the 1930s followed this same path. Learn from history, and stop repeating it. Legislators - DO YOUR JOB OR BE VOTED OUT!

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  • Dara
    12/29/2017
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    If it’s unnecessary jeff sessions then why did you undo the protections? You are a typical lying, bottom-dwelling, scum-sucking lawyer. Elections have consequences.

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  • Gerald
    12/29/2017
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    We know what’s next. Working off those debts on the local plantations. Upon my sons release from prison he was confronted by crushing fees and compounding interest the second he exited those prison doors for a drug offense. Just to get his driver license reinstated was more than he had, and without one he could not find a job. The story has a happy ending only because we had the resources to help, but most people don’t. This administration is returning us to fifty years ago when people knew their place and America was great for white people.

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  • Matthew
    12/29/2017
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    Wait till 2018 and we will have emperor trump

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