AG Sessions Rescinds 24 More Obama-Era 'Guidance Documents' That Circumvented Rule-Making Process

By Susan Jones | July 5, 2018 | 7:25am EDT
(White House photo)

( - There's even more outrage from the left this week, after the Trump Justice Department rescinded 24 "guidance documents" penned during Barack Obama's eight years in office.

While liberals groups such as the ACLU focus on the content of those documents, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is focused on the process by which the guidance was issued. Sessions said the rescinded guidance documents involved "unnecessary or improper rule-making."

"When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President," Sessions said in a news release.

In previous administrations, however, agencies often tried to impose new rules on the American people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website. That’s wrong, and it’s not good government.

In the Trump administration, we are restoring the rule of law. That’s why in November I banned this practice at the Department and we began rescinding guidance documents that were issued improperly or that were simply inconsistent with current law.

Today we are rescinding 24 more and continuing to put an end to unnecessary or improper rulemaking.

Sessions noted that in February 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for agencies to identify existing regulations for potential repeal, replacement or modification.

In that same month, Sessions barred Justice Department components from issuing "guidance documents" to avoid the rule-making process.

A DOJ task force identified 25 guidance documents for repeal in December 2017, and now it has identified another 24.

The most recent 24 set policies on juvenile offenders; school safety; national origin discrimination in mortgage lending; fair employmet, right to work for refugees and aslyees; English proficiency; and the use of race to achieve diversity in education, among other things.

Faiz Shakir, the ACLU's national political director, accused the Trump administration of attacking minorities:

This move from Attorney General Sessions is a concrete signal that there is a war being waged on civil liberties from the highest levels of government. Guidance documents do not make law, but they do clarify and facilitate the law’s implementation.

This is another attack by Sessions and President Trump on people of color. Our chief law enforcement officer is dismantling structures that prevent racial discrimination in education, in housing, and in ensuring fair treatment of juveniles in our criminal justice system.

It’s a shameful move, but let there be no mistake — it doesn’t change the law, or the mandate for federal agencies to uphold the Constitution. The ACLU will continue to fight for equality under the law and to protect all civil rights, even as the Justice Department won’t.

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