On Friday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a bill that gives Republicans the power to meddle in state investigations should they dislike the prosecutor leading them.
Senate Bill 92 establishes an oversight board, appointed by the governor and other state officials, that will have the power to remove or hamper the work of prosecutors the panel deems incapable of doing the job these prosecutors have been elected to do.
In a news release, Georgia’s governor said the bill was actually intended to target “rogue or incompetent prosecutors who refuse to uphold the law.” And he said the new board would hold "prosecutors driven by out-of-touch politics" accountable.
The question is, "out of touch" with whom?
The board will effectively have the power to recall elected district attorneys or solicitors-general, even if it goes against voters’ will.
That said, the move is consistent with efforts by conservative lawmakers, at both the federal and state level, to hamper prosecutors — mainly Black prosecutors — who target people Republicans don’t want to target. This nationwide, right-wing crusade against law enforcement is in sync with former President Donald Trump’s attacks on prosecutors who’ve opened investigations into his activities, including prosecutors in New York, Georgia and Washington, D.C.
Republicans, for example, have decried the multiple criminal investigations into Trump, including Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ probe into Trump’s effort to overturn Georgia’s presidential election results in 2020. Georgia Republicans haven't invoked Willis' investigation in their prosecutorial oversight push, though the district attorney has made it clear she believes the bill is racist and a clear attempt to retaliate against her.
At the same time, the GOP has targeted Willis and other prosecutors with baseless allegations that they’ve ignored dangerous crime to pursue Trump investigations. And the former president has openly supported this effort to pass laws that could potentially disrupt Willis’ investigation of him (go figure).
Republicans' efforts speak to a circumstance many Black litigators have had to endure over centuries in which white lawmakers seek to undermine their intelligence or effectiveness by stripping them of their power.
Sure, Kemp technically signed a new bill into law Friday. But it rests on an old and bigoted foundation.