Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding a letter issued by the Obama administration that deals with how local courts penalize defendants.
Arguing it was an act of federal overreach, the White House’s top prosecutor is repealing an Obama-era Justice Department letter that called on chief judges and court administrators in every state to refrain from giving poor defendants expensive fees and fines, according to The Washington Post.
Sessions, in a prepared statement, explained he was doing away with “the long-standing abuse of issuing rules by simply publishing a letter or posting a web page.”
“Congress has provided for a regulatory process in statute, and we are going to follow it,” Sessions stated.
“This is good government and prevents confusing the public with improper and wrong advice.”
The Obama-era letter, sent in March 2016, was meant to curb law enforcement from issuing fines to citizens as a means of generating revenue.
Sent to court administrators and chief judges in every state, the letter noted that illegal collection of fees and fines had been receiving a lot of attention, and that the Justice Department had a “strong interest” in ensuring citizens’ rights were protected.
Previously, the Justice Department alleged in a lawsuit that law enforcement officers in Ferguson, Missouri — home to riots following the shooting of Michael Brown — were violating the civil rights of citizens by policing tactics that were used to generate income.
The move is just the latest by Sessions as he continues to restructure how the Justice Department operates.
The attorney general has revoked over two dozen Justice Department guidance documents dating back to the 1990s.
Guidance documents he has rescinded are numerous and diverse — ranging from the Americans With Disabilities Act to ATF procedures.
He has enacted a new charging policy that pushes prosecutors to pursue the most serious offenses possible — even if that means triggering mandatory prison sentences.
Among other things, Sessions has restored the use of private prisons and has changed the Justice Department’s legal stances on issues regarding voting rights and LGBT people, placing him at odds with his immediate predecessors in the Obama administration.
The Republican senator-turned-attorney general is just getting started with his tough-on-crime approach.
In his fight against home-grown terrorism, Sessions and the Trump White House have made clear their desire to do away with chain migration and the visa lottery program — immigration policies that allowed two Muslim immigrants to commit two separate terrorist attacks in New York City within a month from each other.
“The president is exactly correct about the changes we need to our immigration system,” Sessions stated earlier this month.
“We have now seen two terrorist attacks in New York City in less than two months that were carried out by people who came here as the result of our failed immigration policies that do not serve the national interest-the diversity lottery and chain migration” he continued.
“The 20-year-old son of the sister of a U.S. citizen should not get priority to come to this country ahead of someone who is high-skilled, well educated, has learned English, and is likely to assimilate and flourish here.”
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