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Bill Barr’s speech to the Federalist Society slams ‘the left’

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  • Attorney General Bill Barr attacked “the left” in an aggressive speech Friday night to the Federalist Society, a conservative group of lawyers that has provided President Donald Trump with many of his judicial nominees.
  • The speech has prompted criticisms of Barr and his Justice Department, which is supposed to stand apart from party politics. 
  • The left, Barr said, “is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law.”
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In a fiery speech to the conservative law group, the Federalist Society, Attorney General Bill Barr laid out his argument for why the chief executive of the country is protected from laws that apply to every other citizen — a legal theory known as unitary executive theory that former Vice President Dick Cheney used as a justification for many executive actions following 9/11.

“One of the more amusing aspects of modern progressive polemic is their breathless attacks on the ‘unitary executive theory.’ They portray this as some new-fangled ‘theory’ to justify Executive power of sweeping scope. In reality, the idea of the unitary executive does not go so much to the breadth of Presidential power. Rather, the idea is that, whatever the Executive powers may be, they must be exercised under the President’s supervision,” Barr said, according to a transcript published by the Justice Department. “This is not ‘new,’ and it is not a ‘theory.’ It is a description of what the Framers unquestionably did in Article II of the Constitution.”  

Barr also largely criticized the left for “the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law” on the same day Democrats held impeachment hearings. 

The speech has been quickly criticized for its political slant and Barr’s loyalty to Trump. 

The Federalist Society has been a prominent legal group since its founding in 1982 at Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, and the University of Chicago Law School, and late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the firm’s original faculty advisor. Trump’s two Supreme Court nominees — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — were both members, as well as the Court’s three other conservative justices, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts. The group’s CEO, Leonard Leo, has supplied the Trump administration with hundreds of candidates for judgeships lower down the federal bench. 

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