Protecting the Independence of the Justice Department: Key Requirements for the Next Attorney General

On December 14, 2018, Protect Democracy provided Senate Judiciary Committee members with a statement outlining key commitments Attorney General-designate William Barr must make during the Senate confirmation process. These include pledges to:

  • enforce long-standing policies limiting White House interference with the Department of Justice (DOJ).
  • protect the independence of the ongoing special counsel investigation.
  • prevent politically-motivated investigative and prosecutorial decisions.
  • prevent the use of DOJ enforcement resources to target critics of the Trump Administration.


Protect Democracy has published a white paper explaining the constitutional limits on White House interference with law enforcement matters. Based on the arguments laid out in that white paper, we also filed an amicus brief on behalf of former Department of Justice officials in United States v. AT&T laying out these limits. We also argued that the President’s interference in the AT&T/Time Warner merger was retaliatory action in violation of the First Amendment in PEN America v. Trump, where we are co-counsel with Yale Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic representing PEN America.

We also organized two statements on behalf of Department of Justice alumni: one in support of protecting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s oversight of the Special Counsel’s investigation and another calling for Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to be replaced by the appropriate Senate-confirmed official specified in the DOJ succession statute.

Protect Democracy, along with the Constitutional Accountability Center, also represents Senators Blumenthal, Whitehouse, and Hirono in a lawsuit challenging the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General.

Related Updates

Protect Democracy and others urge Texas counties to adopt reliable, secure voting systems

On October 21, 2019, together with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU Voting Rights Project, and Public Citizen, Protect Democracy sent a letter to 29 Texas counties urging the adoption of secure, paper-based voting machines systems ahead of the 2020 elections. The identified counties currently use paperless machines, which present a significant risk to election security at a time when the nation’s elections are under threat.

Lawsuit filed challenging DHS policy designed to keep legal immigrants from becoming citizens

Protect Democracy, Advancing Justice-AAJC, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, and Mayer Brown LLP filed suit in California on behalf of organizations and communities who will be irreparably harmed by these changes. On October 25, 2019, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced changes to the naturalization process that will present significant barriers to citizenship for tens of thousands of non-wealthy applicants each year.