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Enforcement Edge
March 6, 2024

“Swift” Justice: Attorney General Garland Vows To Uphold DOJ Priorities in Fireside Chat

Enforcement Edge: Shining Light on Government Enforcement

This year’s ABA White Collar Crime Conference kicked off today with a standing room only “Fireside Chat” with Attorney General Merrick Garland. AG Garland discussed a range of hot topics, from artificial intelligence (AI) to voting rights protections.

At the outset, AG Garland took the opportunity to announce an indictment, unsealed just today in the Northern District of California, charging a Chinese national with theft of AI-related trade secrets. The decision to start his remarks with this announcement reveals a strong interest in communicating that DOJ will be focused on AI-related developments. More broadly on this subject, AG Garland discussed the advantages of an evolving technology such as AI, but cautioned that foreign malign actors might use AI to increase political polarization and attack our electoral system.

Additionally, AG Garland explained how DOJ’s three co-equal priorities — upholding the rule of law, keeping America safe, and protecting civil liberties — implicated corporate accountability. AG Garland stressed that the greatest deterrent of white collar crime is holding individual corporate executives to account. AG Garland also reiterated the importance of applying the rule of law equally, regardless of rank or position of power.

In the context of the run-up to the 2024 general election, AG Garland reflected on his recent trip to Selma, Alabama, in commemoration of the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. In a somewhat emotional tone of voice, he recounted his recollections of these events and the significance they had for him at age 12. Having expressed his decades-long personal commitment to civil rights, he went on to explain that, although certain court decisions may have weakened legal tools used to combat voting discrimination, DOJ intends to aggressively use the tools it has at its disposal to fight voting rights discrimination. Recently, AG Garland doubled the size of DOJ’s voting section of its Civil Rights Division, showcasing his commitment to securing and protecting the fundamental right to vote.

The conversation also touched on lighter topics. AG Garland jokingly lamented that what he missed most about his most recent job was “judicial immunity,” noting his presence on “the other side of the V” in multiple cases. He added that as Attorney General he relishes the ability to take swift action on matters of critical importance, including those raised in his “scary” daily threat briefings.

Finally, AG Garland was asked to choose one Taylor Swift song to be the theme song for DOJ. Without a hitch, AG Garland responded, “Shake It Off,” explaining that DOJ frequently has to shake off outside attacks and political pressure in order to follow the fundamental principles of prosecution and the law.

We’ll continue to keep you updated here on Enforcement Edge as we learn more from the ABA White Collar Institute’s panelists and keynote speakers. Stay tuned!

© Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP 2024 All Rights Reserved. This blog post is intended to be a general summary of the law and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with counsel to determine applicable legal requirements in a specific fact situation.