This op-ed first appeared in Ms. Magazine.
Editor’s note: Below is an op-ed written jointly by Molly Greathead and her grandfather Robert M. Pennoyer. Pennoyer, now in his 90s, has a seasoned legal career dating back to the Eisenhower administration, with experiences including serving as assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and in the office of the Secretary of Defense. Greathead is just one year out of law school and currently serving as a Dorot Fellow at Alliance for Justice, a national association that advocates for fairness in our courts.
On Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr will testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Barr has spent the last 17 months undermining the Justice Department’s independence and enabling our morally bankrupt president. His recent order to violently disperse peaceful demonstrators legally protesting the murder of George Floyd in front of the White House is just his latest act of oppressing the very people whose rights he is charged with protecting.
We write as a grandfather and granddaughter, nonagenarian and millennial, and as two lawyers to join the cacophony of voices calling for Barr’s removal.
Likewise, we urge the House Judiciary Committee to focus its upcoming hearing around Barr’s attempts to use the immense power of the Justice Department to protect Trump’s friends, including by asking the court to end the prosecution of Michael Flynn and trying to remove the top prosecutor in Manhattan, who was in charge of several investigations into Trump’s close associates.
While Barr has taken countless actions that would justify his removal, we urge lawmakers to scrutinize these most recent abuses of power, as they exemplify his corrupt approach to running the Justice Department.
One of us, Molly, is just starting her legal career at the Alliance for Justice. The other, Bob, was admitted to the bar in 1950 after fighting in World War II for the very ideals that are now at stake. He served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York under Eisenhower and has spent the last seventy years advocating for civil rights, racial justice, and reproductive rights.
Together, we represent two generations of lawyers who are deeply concerned about the damage Barr is doing to the Justice Department and to our country.