Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated to a group of conservative lawyers on Friday that his roll back of civil rights reforms under former President Barack Obama are not finished, according to an American Civil Liberties Union blog.
“Throughout the Obama administration, the Department of Justice worked with state and local governments to protect civil rights and liberties by suggesting practical ways” to eliminate constitutionally questionable practices, said Jesselyn McCurdy, of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office. “Sessions has indicated that he may repeal and replace these policies, which will roll back important efforts to ensure equal protection for all under the law.”
Sessions’ comments came during a speech to the conservative Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention. The attorney general signed an internal DOJ memo in which he prohibited the department from issuing guidance documents similar to those released by the Obama administration. Sessions bans DOJ officials from issuing guidance outside of what has been approved by the president and Republican-led Congress to agencies outside the federal government. This rebuke of Obama-era guidances is not surprising given Sessions’ moves to rescind many of Obama’s policies shortly after his confirmation as attorney general, McCurdy added.
One example of an Obama guidance under assault is the directive to eliminate racial profiling by law enforcement agencies. That guidance document stemmed from collaboration between the ACLU and the administration. Under that guidance document, Obama added other characteristics—including gender identity, religion, sexual orientation and national origin—to the principal of eliminating biased profiling. Another example focused on police targeting groups for fines. That stemmed from a DOJ investigation that found a “pattern or practice” in the Ferguson, Missouri police department of racially biased ticketing of Black drivers.