Tags: alan dershowitz | william barr | conflicting roles

Dershowitz: Don't Blame Barr For Conflicting AG Roles

william barr testifies before the senate committee on appropriations subcommittee
Attorney General William Barr (Stefani Reynolds/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

By    |   Monday, 13 May 2019 12:03 PM

William Barr should not be blamed for having dual loyalties as attorney general, because the conflicting roles of his position are inherent in the constitutional system of the United States, Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz argued in an op-ed in The Hill on Monday.

Any attorney general’s first role is as a member of the Cabinet and owes the president a high degree of loyalty, Dershowitz wrote, adding that any Cabinet member showing disloyalty to the president and his political agenda risks getting fired.

However, in this age of growing weaponization of criminal justice, especially when the president himself or those around him are the possible targets of law enforcement, the attorney general’s second role can come into conflict with the first.

He “should be politically neutral, totally objective and nonpartisan. He cannot just selectively prosecute enemies of the president, or fail to prosecute friends of the president,” Dershowitz stressed, adding that “the goal as chief law enforcement officer is not to help the president get re-elected but to enforce the federal laws, most especially the criminal laws, independently and without regard to the wishes of the president.”

The conflict is very sharp, because the president is constitutionally entitled to the loyalty of his Cabinet, while the public is entitled to nonpartisan law enforcement.

Dershowitz said it would be better if the US corrected this fundamental flaw and adopted the system in many other Western democracies where “the mixed and conflicting role that the United States attorney general plays is divided into two separate offices.”

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William Barr should not be blamed for having dual loyalties as attorney general, because the conflicting roles of his position are inherent in the constitutional system of the United States, Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz argued in an op-ed in The Hill on Monday.
alan dershowitz, william barr, conflicting roles
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2019-03-13
Monday, 13 May 2019 12:03 PM
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