Restoring integrity and independence to the Justice Department
Remarks Announcing Department of Justice Leadership as Prepared for Delivery by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Wilmington, Delaware
One of the fundamental principles upon which America’s democracy rests — a principle as sacred as a civic value can be — is fidelity to the rule of law.
In times of stability, that principle can seem abstract, like something out of a legal textbook that isn’t relevant to our daily lives.
But in times of upheaval, we come to realize, to appreciate, just how vital the rule of law truly is.
What we saw yesterday in our nation’s capital was, as the President-elect called it, an assault on the rule of law.
And it has no place in our democracy.
So, we must ask ourselves two questions about what happened yesterday: “What went wrong?” and “How do we make it right?”
And I believe the answers require us to recognize that the challenge we’re facing in our country is about more than the actions of a few.
It’s about how to reform, how to transform a justice system that doesn’t work equally for all.
A justice system that’s experienced differently if you’re white or Black.
A justice system that’s experienced differently if you’re rich or poor.
A justice system that’s different if your job requires you to take a shower before you go to work or requires you to take a shower when you come home after work.
We witnessed two systems of justice when we saw one that let extremists storm the U.S. Capitol and another that released tear gas on peaceful protestors last summer.
The American people have expressed outrage.
We know this is unacceptable.
We know we should be better than this.
The promise of our country is that all people will be treated equally.
That’s what the rule of law is supposed to be about.
That’s what the ideal of “Equal Justice Under Law” is all about.
I’ve dedicated my career to helping uphold those principles, to helping build a more just and equal America — whether as San Francisco’s District Attorney or California’s Attorney General, or United States Senator.
And that’s what I will do as Vice President.
The public servants we are announcing today have also dedicated themselves to building a more just and equal America.
And the roles they will assume are some of the most important in our country, especially right now.
They will be responsible for pursuing justice and ensuring that all Americans are treated equally.
They will be the guardians of our justice system.
They will have the power to enforce our laws in a more fair and more humane manner, while also holding those who violate the law accountable — whether ordinary citizens or law enforcement.
They will help protect the rights of every voter in our country, no matter what their background or where they live.
And they will restore integrity and independence to the Justice Department and rebuild the American people’s trust in the institution.
I know they will do this.
Because these nominees have the experience, judgment, and moral compass that these roles demand, as well as an abiding commitment to supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States.
For many centuries, the ideal of justice has been symbolized as a woman, blindfolded, with a scale in her hands.
There is a reason the eyes of Lady Justice are covered.
It’s because justice shouldn’t depend on the color of your skin or how much money you have in your bank account.
It shouldn’t depend on what language your grandmother speaks or what political party you belong to.
Justice should be impartial.
It should be fair.
It should be applied equally.
And President-elect Biden and I, along with this superb team, will help make sure it is, while restoring and strengthening the rule of law that always has been and always will be the bedrock of America’s democracy.
Thank you, Mr. President-elect.