Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has made a name for himself as a civil rights crusader when it comes to protecting citizens from the people sworn to protect and serve the citizenry. Yeah, not so much. In fact, the New York Times (of all people) reveal that Holder’s Derpartment of Justice [sic] has argued for cops caught speaking loudly and wielding a big stick in front of the Supreme Court (no less). Check this out . . .
Teresa Sheehan was alone in her apartment at a mental health center, clutching what her lawyers said was a small bread knife and demanding to be left alone. San Francisco police officers, responding to a call from a social worker, forced open the door, blinded her with pepper spray and shot her.
It was the kind of violent police confrontation that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has frequently criticized in Cleveland, Albuquerque, Ferguson, Mo., and beyond. But last month, when Ms. Sheehan’s civil rights lawsuit reached the Supreme Court, the Justice Department backed the police, saying that a lower court should have given more weight to the risks that the officers faced.
At the Supreme Court, where the limits of police power are established, Mr. Holder’s Justice Department has supported police officers every time an excessive-force case has made its way to arguments. Even as it has opened more than 20 civil rights investigations into local law enforcement practices, the Justice Department has staked out positions that make it harder for people to sue the police and that give officers more discretion about when to fire their guns.
Two-faced much? I’m sorry. The Department of Justice, Holder supporters and the Times call it “striking a balance” between police use of force force and “real-time judgments to protect public safety.”
Which sounds great in theory. In practice, Holder’s DOJ is the public face of the people’s champion and the private face of the police state. Or am I being too harsh?
Private civil rights lawyers . . . have been frustrated that the Justice Department’s aggressive stance in civil rights reports does not extend to its positions before the Supreme Court. “A report can have an impact on a department for a time,” said Gary Smith, the lawyer for the driver in the Arkansas case. “But case law touches every officer in every department in the country.”
If you think the DOJ is concerned about limiting police brutality, you’re right. If you think the DOJ is concerned with protecting its own, no matter what, you’re right. If you think the DOJ can’t “strike a balance” between these too, you’re right. Right? [h/t mister3d]