Top 5 Ways Consent Decrees Interfere with Liberty and JusticePrint This Post
Sessions referred to the issuing of consent decrees as “One of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power.”
To address the many issues of fraud surrounding the 2020 election, the lawyers representing President Trump and the American people have had to cut through considerable amounts of legal red tape. Of course, this is how those that committed the fraud intended it, as it makes the investigation and litigation process longer, more complicated and as a result, less likely to be successful. A prime example of this which has caused President Trump and his lawyers a great amount of frustration is the consent decree signed by the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, which resulted from a lawsuit that was settled in March. The lawsuit was filed by 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who claimed that immigrants and minorities were much more likely to have their ballots rejected, therefore disenfranchising them.
Prior to the election on October 4, Abrams explained her reason for the consent decree, saying that “The issue was they threw out your ballot if there was a signature mismatch, which was twice as likely if you were black or Latino, five times as likely if you’re young.” She also added that immigrants were also affected in this way. “We were able to get a consent decree earlier this year where you’d get to fix your ballot if they think there’s a problem.”
So, what exactly is a consent decree? It is an irrevocable legal agreement that is signed by both parties, often as a result of a lawsuit. It allows the defendant to avoid directly admitting guilt (and in many cases going to trial) and requires the defendant to follow a list of actions that need to be completed or halted or criteria that need to be met in a certain period. A consent decree is held by a court order, which means the court is given jurisdiction over the agreement to see to it the defendant complies with everything it requires. If the defendant fails to adhere to the guidelines of the consent decree, they may be found in contempt of court, or be given another type of penalty.
Consent decrees are often used to achieve reform with government agencies, businesses, school systems and police departments that have violated a law or regulation without going through the legislative process that is directly connected to the people. Prior to the 2020 election, consent decrees had become a method commonly used by the Obama administration, particularly as a shortcut to enforcing new rules and procedures in police departments without having to go through the legal process and obtain approval. Should he be elected as President later this month, Joe Biden has already announced that he plans to continue this practice of issuing consent decrees for “systemic police misconduct,” according to a recent article from Newsmax.
President Trump’s former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a major critic of these agreements, feeling that they greatly oppressed the power of these police departments. And back in 2008, a research paper was published by the non-profit Alabama Policy Institute, and Sessions made a strong case against consent decrees in the document’s foreword. Sessions referred to the issuing of consent decrees as “One of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power.”
Top 5 Ways Consent Decrees Interfere with Liberty and Justice
- Decision-making power is taken from the people, as Sessions wrote, “By expanding beyond the scope of the requirements of the law, a consent decree can enact a public policy agenda that otherwise would have little or no support.” The people that are impacted by the policy have no say in it.
- The legislature’s hands are tied with consent decrees and the legislative process is bypassed altogether. Once the consent decree is signed, there is rarely anything the legislature can do to end the rules and requirements that accompany them, and often these requirements begin to have a negative impact on the people. Exceptions can be made that allow the agreement to be appealed in the case of fraud, error by both parties, or if the court lacks jurisdiction over the case. So, if the election and voter fraud can be proven in a court, the consent agreement that Stacey Abrams pushed in Georgia regarding signature matching would likely be null and void.
- The consent degrees give too much power to the Executive branch. Officials do not usually have to obtain approval for consent decrees, and the agreements are often signed and put into effect without anyone really noticing. We can see this with Obama’s mass issuance of consent decrees to police departments. A more recent example is Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Governor Brian Kemp, who signed the consent decree back in March which inevitably led to serious allegations of election fraud. On November 14, President Trump tweeted: “The consent decree signed by the Georgia Secretary of State, with the approval of Governor @BrianKempGA at the urging of @StaceyAbrams, makes it impossible to check and match signatures on ballots and envelopes, etc. They knew they were going to cheat. Must expose real signatures!”
- The consent degrees give too much power to the Judicial branch. This is one of the reasons plaintiffs tend to favor these agreements, because they can leave it to the court to enforce the terms of it. In the Alabama Policy Institute research paper, Sessions wrote that consent decrees are “much easier to enforce than other judgements.” But if something changes that causes the decree to no longer be useful, it can be a complicated process getting out of it. And many of these judges, possibly like the one that Stacey Abrams found, have no idea what the real motive is for the consent decree.
- There is no accountability or end in sight when consent degrees are used. Very few people are involved in the decision to sign a consent decree, and if the defendant is a government organization, business, school, or police department, the agreement impacts public policy and ultimately affects the public. There may be conditions that must be followed for extended periods of time, without any real proof that these conditions work. Furthermore, as with some of the cases we discussed above, often these consent decrees come in the form of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, i.e., someone who claims to have the interests of others at heart, but their true motive is self-interest.
Ablechild worked exposing the detrimental effects that can come because of consent decrees, along with the ulterior motives that are sometimes hidden behind them as in the Juan F. Consent Decree. The Juan F Consent Decree related to a child that died in Connecticut State care. Without an independent investigation into the cause of death, a non profit turned up at the perfect time to claim they knew why the child died. Without legislative due process, the nonprofit filed a lawsuit in the name of the child who was Juan F. Based on this filing, the non-profit was given standing in the court to speak on behalf of all children. That nonprofit was given authorization to make sweeping restructuring decisions behind closed doors with a judge’s ruling. However, that non-profit that claimed to be working in the best interest of the victim had powerful board members with conflicting interests. Therefore, the reforms bypassed any oversight. The very same industry that benefited from State contracts trafficking children into off label behavioral health drugs (not FDA approved for use in children) was now in charge of restructuring and implementing reforms that never cure the systemic problems but enhanced their access to these children. The Juan F Consent Decree has been in place for decades without any meaningful reforms or protections for children and has established a pipeline of cradle to grave consumers for the drug industry.