CHN: Whose Interests Will Whitaker Protect?
Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs, issued the following statement Thursday in response to Wednesday’s interim appointment of Matt Whitaker as Acting U.S. Attorney General:
“The Attorney General of the United States, whether interim or not, is not the President’s lawyer. He, or she, is the nation’s lawyer. It is critically important that we have an Attorney General dedicated to protect the interests of all Americans, including low-income Americans and the most vulnerable Americans. One of the most troubling aspects of the interim appointment of Matt Whitaker is his lack of independence. Whose interests will Whitaker protect?
“There is no shortage of issues within the Department of Justice’s portfolio that are of deep concern to low-income people: whether or not the upcoming U.S. Census will include an extremely damaging and discriminatory question on citizenship; the plight of immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers; the very future of the Affordable Care Act, which once again could be headed back to the U.S. Supreme Court for review; the use of federal waiver authority for Medicaid, SNAP, and other basic needs programs; the Department’s grave responsibilities to enforce the Voting Rights Act and other civil rights measures; and so, so much more.
“Upholding the rule of law is central to our democracy, and the Attorney General’s role is of critical importance. This is especially true for low-income people and other vulnerable populations.
“At best, the appointment of Whitaker as Acting Attorney General is irregular. At worst, because he does not have Senate confirmation, it might be unlawful. The usual practice, when there is a vacancy in the office of Attorney General, is to appoint the Deputy Attorney General or Solicitor General. It is highly troubling that the Administration would depart from this norm.
“Our nation would be best served if the President withdraws this ill-considered appointment, appoints someone on an interim basis who has Senate confirmation, and submits a qualified nominee to the Senate with utmost speed.”