The Legal Docket: Bragging Rights

You’re probably asking yourself, what’s up with that title? I’ll get to that in a minute.

The picture above comes from Judge Garland zooming into a Congressional hearing in which he requested a massive increase in spending to combat domestic terrorism. It’s about bloody time.

Note the portraits of past Attorney Generals flanking Merrick Garland: to his left Edward Levi and to his right Robert Kennedy.

Here’s where the bragging rights come in. I wrote a piece called Merrick Garland’s Time. In it, I compared him favorably to his fellow Chicagoan, Edward Levi who cleaned up the DOJ in the wake of Watergate.

Like Edward Levi and John Paul Stevens, Merrick Garland hails from the Chicago area.

Like Merrick Garland, Edward Levi was a modest unassuming man.

Like Merrick Garland, Edward Levi faced a difficult task. He did the job, then returned to the University of Chicago where he had previously served as dean of the law school and president of the university.

Like Merrick Garland, Edward Levi was Jewish. He was the first Jewish AG; Garland will be the third.


Edward Levi is one of the most underrated figures in American history. He not only had to clean up the DOJ, but he also had to reform the FBI, which J. Edgar Hoover had turned into his private police force. He accomplished both in two years. It can be done again.

1975 was Edward Levi’s time.

2021 is Merrick Garland’s time.

I’m pleased but not surprised to see that Garland shares my high opinion of Levi. Keep up the good work, General Garland.

In other legal news, we have a flashback to former Attorney General Bill Barr’s misrepresentations of the Mueller Report:

The blistering opinion by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson concerned an Office of Legal Counsel memo that was drafted in the key weekend between when special counsel Robert Mueller issued his report to Attorney General Bill Barr and when Barr released a public letter to Congress ostensibly “summarizing” the report.


She said that the department had made a “misrepresentation” about the purpose of the memo and engaged in a “the lack of candor” about its content. She said that CREW, while never laying “eyes on the document,” had supplied a summary “more accurate than the one supplied by the department’s declarants” in its filings alleging that the memo was being illegally withheld.

Team Barr violated the first rule of litigation: NEVER PISS OFF THE JUDGE.

The DOJ has two weeks to decide if the memo remains withheld. It’s unlikely that Team Garland will continue the cover up.

Today, I once again compared Merrick Garland to Edward Levi. It’s time to recapitulate my comparison of Bill Barr to jailed Nixon Attorney Generals John Mitchell and Dick Kleindienst:

Talk about a rogue’s gallery. None of those guys will be hanging on the wall in a future AG’s office.

I found those official portraits at the DOJ web site. The portraits of LBJ’s AGs took a decidedly modernist turn.

That’s Nick Katzenbach by Alan Wood-Thomas and Ramsey Clark by Robert Berks.

I hope that the fashion of calling presidents by their numbers doesn’t catch on with Attorney Generals. If it does, we began with 86 flanked by 71 and 64.

That is all.