William Barr Is the New Attorney General and Civil Rights Groups Are Worried

February 14, 2019, 9:06 PM UTC

The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, and other major civil and environmental rights groups have come forward with statements opposing Attorney General William Barr less than an hour after the Senate confirmed his appointment Thursday.

Barr, who previously served as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush, is known for promoting restrictive measures when it comes to criminal justice, LGBTQ equality, immigrant rights, and reproductive freedom. This record worried Democrats and led nearly 300 organizations to sign a letter opposing his appointment in January.

Despite his confirmation, the opposition isn’t ending. The ACLU—which has taken the Trump administration to court over a multitude of issues, including its travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries and its immigration policy separating families at the border—threatened to use the law against Barr if he continues the administration’s politics.

“Now that William Barr has been confirmed, he should be on notice that if under his leadership the Department of Justice continues the unconstitutional policies and practices of his predecessor, the ACLU will see him in court,” said the ACLU legal director, David Cole, in a statement. “The attorney general’s job is to enforce the law for all, and we will hold him to it.”

The Sierra Club, an environmental organization, voiced concern over Barr’s ties with corporate polluters.

“William Barr has repeatedly proven he does not meet the minimum criteria to fulfill the duties required of the Attorney General, and his installation as chief lawyer does a grave disservice to the American people,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a statement. “The protection of our air, water, and democracy must be prioritized above corporate polluters’ and Donald Trump’s interests.”

Planned Parenthood tweeted that Barr’s appointment is “unacceptable,” adding that “he is a threat to the very rights an AG is supposed to protect.”

GLADD, an LBGTQ advocacy organization, also added their voice of dissent.

“It’s alarming and upsetting that a person citing LGBTQ people as a reason for the decline of the United States will now serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, in a statement. “There’s little doubt that William Barr will carry on this Administration’s ongoing efforts at rolling back the progress LGBTQ Americans have made in recent years. This confirmation today reminds us once again that the Trump Administration is no friend to us.”