D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (Photo courtesy of Racine)
After the sleaziness of William Barr, the nation needs an attorney general who will restore trust, integrity, and honesty to the Department of Justice. One person who could do that is Karl Anthony Racine, current attorney general of the District of Columbia.
Racine was born in Port-au-Prince Haiti. He and his family fled the Duvalier regime immigrating to D.C. when he was three years old. He went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania where he was the captain of the basketball team, leading them to two Ivy League championships. He went on to earn his law degree from the University of Virginia. While there, he worked at a pro bono clinic representing migrant farm workers and he and his mother produced the first Haitian Creole/English legal dictionary intended to aid Haitian immigrants in the United States.
After graduation, Racine joined Venable LLP. He left to become a staff attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. He has moved back and forth between the private sector and government service. He served as an associate counsel in the Clinton White House and also served as a member of the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission. When Racine returned to private practice he became the first African-American managing partner of a top-100 law firm, Venable LLP. I first met Karl in 2014 when he ran for office realizing quickly I knew his mother Dr. Marie Racine from my service on the Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia where she taught. It was clear he inherited her drive, integrity, and honesty.
The next attorney general will be tasked with bringing stability, integrity, and honesty back to the Department of Justice — all lost first under the stewardship of Jeff Sessions and fully destroyed by Barr, who has allowed Trump to use the Department of Justice merely as an extension of his own legal team. Today, Barr is an enabler of Trump’s effort to cling to office and steal the election, an effort that will ultimately fail.
Racine is well respected among his peers across the nation. He won numerous cases for the people of the District against utility companies, landlords, and others who would take advantage of those who could not fight for themselves. He is scrupulously honest and demands the same from all those who work for him.
According to Wikipedia “as D.C. Attorney General, Racine established four priorities for his office. They are data-driven juvenile justice reform; protecting consumers from abusive tactics by unscrupulous businesses; preserving affordable housing and protecting tenants in communities across the District; and advancing democracy and safeguarding public integrity.
Racine helped end mandatory shackling of juveniles appearing before D.C. Superior Court and expanded options for rehabilitating low-risk juvenile offenders with a diversion program that helps young people get and stay on the right track. The program has achieved a success rate of nearly 80 percent and participation in the program has increased five-fold, positively impacting young lives and increasing public safety. Racine also established a standalone Office of Consumer Protection within OAG. The office has focused on outreach, education and legal actions to protect consumers and has brought tens of millions of dollars to the District through settlements and judgments in cases against corporate wrongdoers. In 2017, Racine established the Public Advocacy Division to bring affirmative litigation to preserve affordable housing, protect residents against wage theft, safeguard the environment and ensure public integrity.”
Racine has served as a board member of the D.C. Legal Aid Society and as a member of the steering committee of the Whitman-Walker Clinic’s Legal Services Program serving the LGBTQ+ community.
According to the Washington Post, “Racine is also increasingly cutting a figure in national politics, especially in an era when Democratic attorneys general are gaining newfound celebrity thanks to ceaseless court battles with the president. In 2017, he joined Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh in suing Trump, alleging that foreign payments to the Trump International Hotel violate anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution. That was followed by the opening of an investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Washington and by a lawsuit against Facebook over alleged breaches in users’ privacy — the first such action by U.S. authorities. Then Racine became the third state or federal law enforcement official to subpoena Trump’s inaugural committee in a probe of how it raised and spent money.”
It is clear President-elect Biden could find no one more qualified and respected than Karl Racine to serve as the next attorney general of the United States.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.