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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 15, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 07
Meet Bill Barr, the new attorney general
Section One
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Meet Bill Barr, the new attorney general

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Trump nominee Bill Barr was confirmed as US attorney general by the Senate on February 14.

While his legal views are arguably less odious than those of his predecessor, Jeff Sessions, Barr is just as hostile to the LGBT community.

As George W Bush's deputy attorney general, Barr - together with others at the Department of Justice - successfully pushed for the withdrawal of a proposed Department of Health and Human Services rule that would have allowed people with HIV/AIDS into the United States.

He also advocated confining Haitian and HIV-positive refugees seeking asylum in the US in the same Guantanamo Bay detention center as suspected enemy combatants from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Barr's scholarly writings are also problematic.

For example, in a 1995 article for The Catholic Lawyer, Barr stated that American government is 'predicated precisely' on Judeo-Christian culture, now being challenged 'in an increasingly militant, secular age.'

Barr asserts that there are three ways secularists use 'law as a legal weapon.' The first method is through elimination of traditional moral norms through legislation and litigation. As an example, Barr cites the elimination of the barriers to divorce and the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade as examples of this method.

The second is the promotion of moral relativism through the passage of laws that dissolve moral consensus and enforce neutrality. Barr deplores the 1987 ruling in Gay Rights Coalition v. Georgetown University, which 'compel[s] Georgetown University to treat homosexual activist groups like any other student group.'

The third method is the use of law directly against religion. As an example, Barr cites efforts to use the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution to exclude religiously based discourse from the public square.

Concluding, Barr states the need to 'restructure education and take advantage of existing tax deductions for charitable institutions to promote Catholic education.'

Strangely enough for someone who explicitly identifies as a Roman Catholic lawyer, Barr has been a staunch supporter of the death penalty. As deputy attorney general, he pushed hard to pass a Bush-backed bill that would have expanded the types of federal crimes that could be punished by execution.

In a 1991 op-ed in the New York Times, Barr also argued that death row inmates' ability to challenge their sentences should be limited to avoid cases dragging on for years.

'This lack of finality devastates the criminal justice system,' he wrote. 'It diminishes the deterrent effect of state criminal laws, saps state prosecutorial resources, and continually reopens the wounds of victims and survivors.'

Barr is also an enemy of reproductive choice. In 1991, he stated that he believed the framers of the Constitution did not originally intend to create a right to abortion, that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, and that abortion should be a 'legitimate issue for state legislators.'

In his confirmation hearings, Barr said that Roe was 'the law of the land' and that he did not have 'fixed or settled views' on the subject.

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