February 01, 2020

February 2020 Statement on Partisan Political Influence

The Section has received statements of concern about tweets by the President of the United States and about the Department of Justice’s change in its sentencing recommendation in the case of Roger Stone, a friend of the President convicted of misconduct while engaging in activity in support of the President. If true, such reports implicate the most serious form of improper personal and partisan political influence on prosecutorial decision-making. Those tweets also unfairly and personally attack the competence and motives of the career government prosecutors who made that sentencing recommendation and the judge who presided over the case. More than 1,100 former Department of Justice attorneys who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations have written a public letter stating that these actions damage the department’s reputation for impartiality, integrity, and the rule of law.

The Section strongly condemns any such influence as in contravention of the following American Bar Association policy, adopted by the ABA House of Delegates in February 2010:

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges the President and the Attorney General to assure that lawyers in the Department of Justice do not make decisions concerning investigations or proceedings based upon partisan political interests and do not perceive that they will be rewarded for, or punished for not, making a decision based upon partisan political interests.

Consistent with this ABA policy, the Section opposes partisan political influence being brought to bear on our trusted institutions of government. They are a direct threat to the rule of law.

We acknowledge with gratitude the statement on this topic made by our ABA President Judy Perry Martinez.