– Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, issued the following statement about Attorney General Merrick
to federal prosecutors to disregard federal criminal statutes for crack and
powder cocaine cases.
attorney general’s guidance to prosecutors today is baffling and misguided. Not
only does this instruction demand that prosecutors ignore the text and spirit
of federal statutes, it undermines legislative efforts to address
this sentencing disparity.
bipartisan group of lawmakers, including myself, just recently came to an
agreement on statutory changes that could possibly be included in the year-end
funding bill. That hard-won compromise has been jeopardized because the
attorney general inappropriately took lawmaking into his own hands. The
administration could have engaged in the real and lasting legislative process,
but opted for flimsy guidance that will disintegrate when this administration
be clear, our nation’s chief law enforcement official is pushing his
subordinates to flagrantly disregard our laws. The first duty of the Department
of Justice is to faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress. We are in a
moment of public concern about crime and demoralization among law enforcement.
This is the wrong decision for the Justice Department.”
has been a longtime advocate for a fairer criminal sentencing system and broad
criminal justice reforms. He was a lead author of the First
Step Act of 2018
, the once-in-a-generation sentencing and prison reform
law that passed under his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He’s
also an author of the SMART
Cocaine Sentencing Act
, which seeks to address the crack-powder sentencing
disparity and apply the reductions retroactively, while protecting communities
from criminals most likely to reoffend. A potential legislative compromise
was struck just yesterday to address the disparity.