December 02, 2021
Warren to Deliver Floor Speech on the Nomination of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins to Serve as U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts
“I urge my colleagues to set aside nasty, personal attacks on a supremely well-qualified woman, and to support the discharge and ultimate confirmation of Rachael Rollins, a supremely qualified candidate who is ready to serve on day one, as the next U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took to the Senate floor to deliver remarks in support of the nomination of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins to serve as U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. Senators Warren and Markey recommended District Attorney Rollins as their candidate for the U.S. Attorney role.
Senator Warren’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Madam President, I rise today in support of Rachael Rollins, the U.S. Attorney nominee for the District of Massachusetts.
Rachael grew up in Massachusetts. Her dad fought in Vietnam and then returned to Massachusetts to become a corrections officer. He sent his oldest daughter to college and then to law school, and she went on to get a Masters in Law from Georgetown. She’s had experience across a number of public service jobs.
In 2018, she ran for District Attorney of Suffolk County, which includes the city of Boston. In that race, she promised to decriminalize certain low-level offenses, such as shoplifting and drug possession. The people of Suffolk Country embraced her and her ideas, giving her 73% of the vote. She is the first woman of color to be elected as a D.A. in Massachusetts, and, if confirmed by this body, she will be the first Black woman to serve as U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts. She has enthusiastic support from my partner Senator Ed Markey and from me.
A dedicated public servant, Rollins has devoted her career to transforming the criminal justice system so that it actually reduces crime and provides equal justice for all. Her reform efforts have frequently focused on the root causes of crime, and have taken aim at poverty, substance use disorders, and racial disparity.
Since her nomination was announced, dozens of prominent Massachusetts Republicans, Democrats and nonpartisan law enforcement officials, community advocates, and members of the legal community have written in support of her nomination. Among those who have spoken out publicly on her behalf are Massachusetts’ former Republican Governor Bill Weld, former U.S. Attorneys, and the Suffolk County Law Enforcement Executives, and many others. These are the people who know her best, who have worked with her, and who know her record of success as a prosecutor.
Rachel has implemented some innovative policies—exactly as she promised to do when she ran for District Attorney. Those policies may not be preferred by some of Senators, but the facts speak for themselves.
These policies are designed to improve the administration of justice and to reduce crime. And they work. In the months following her start as D.A. in 2019, homicides in Suffolk County reached a 20-year low. And while homicides increased in 2020 as a part of a nationwide trend following the start of the pandemic —- a trend also seen in states like Arkansas and Texas -- recent data from the Boston Police Department shows that homicides in Boston declined by nearly a third in the first nine months of 2021. That drop—a drop of nearly a third—stands in stark contrast with nationwide crime statistics. And it’s not just violent crime, either. The city saw a decline in property crimes like thefts and burglaries this year as well.
Rollins has demonstrated that progressive policies can be effective in cutting serious crimes—which seems to frustrate her opponents.
The policies that Rollins has pursued has helped drive down crime in our state, but it is the strong partnerships she has built with law enforcement leaders from Suffolk County that have also been crucial. In fact, leadership from the Boston Police Department, Massachusetts State Police, Revere Police Department, Chelsea Police Department, MBTA Transit Police Department, and Winthrop Police Department wrote a joint letter to the Senate to express their strong support of Rollins’s nomination to be U.S. Attorney.
While they admit not always seeing eye to eye with her, they also note that Rollins, quote,
“respects us and the work we do to keep our communities safe. She can admit when she is wrong. She can also be incredibly persuasive when she is right.” They add, “Each of us have worked closely with DA Rollins on pressing and significant issues within our respective jurisdictions. She is responsive, attentive, and diligent. Her focus is on victims and how the community is impacted by violence and harm.”
Nobody should be surprised that Rollins’ approach to prosecution is yielding reductions in crime. Nonpartisan research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research confirms why this is the case. After an analysis of 17 years of data and over 67,000 cases from the Suffolk County D.A.’s office, the study found that defendants whose misdemeanor charges were dropped before arraignment were 58% less likely to return to the criminal justice system within the next two years, and they were more likely to avoid charges for any serious violent crimes. By pursuing these policies, Rollins has freed up limited resources in her office to focus on the people and crimes that actually pose the biggest threats to community safety.
Critics are quick to distort these statistics, and Rollins’ record, and the details of her approach. This partisan sniping here in Washington bears no relationship to the reality on the ground in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. For example, even with her reform policies in place, Rachael has prosecuted more drug traffickers than her predecessor. Between January 1st and October 12th of this year, the Suffolk County DA’s Office prosecuted 147 trafficking cases. Of those cases, charges of trafficking in fentanyl accounted for 67% of the total drug trafficking prosecutions. By comparison, her predecessor prosecuted only 130 trafficking cases during the entirety of 2018, of which only 40% involved fentanyl trafficking charges.
It’s no surprise that some right-wing voices have sought to make an issue out of Rollins’ nomination, and it’s unfortunate that many Republicans who should know better have fallen in line behind this campaign of fear mongering. When a roll call vote on her nomination was forced in the Judiciary Committee in September, Republicans quickly tossed out three decades’ worth of precedent and attempted for the first time in over a generation to override the President’s choice of a local U.S. Attorney nomination. I want to remind my colleagues that every single one of the 85 U.S. Attorneys nominated by Trump — every single one — was moved by voice vote, despite significant disagreements about the policies, views, and records of several of those nominees. Every one of them. But Rachel Rollins and President Biden couldn’t get that same kind of consideration.
This kind of political grandstanding has unjustly delayed the confirmation process not only for Rachael Rollins, but for many other well qualified nominees who just want to get to work serving the people of this country. It is also extraordinarily disrespectful to the scores of on-the-ground law enforcement leaders in Massachusetts and others who support this nomination. Our police chiefs, prosecutors, former US Attorneys, and former Governors –Republicans and Democrats — do not need to be told by national politicians who know nothing about our community that their support and their understanding of what we need really doesn’t matter. They do not need to be told that the personal political benefit of attacking this well-respected prosecutor is somehow more important than what all of the data and what their own experiences tell them about what actually reduces crime and improves the administration of justice in Massachusetts. What our law enforcement professionals need — what the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts needs — is for the Senate to confirm this highly qualified nominee.
I have every confidence that Rachael Rollins will continue her partnerships with law enforcement, community advocates, and other key members of the legal community to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all of the people of the Commonwealth in this new role. I look forward to the renewed energy and innovative vision she will bring to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Senator Markey and I want to thank our Massachusetts bipartisan advisory committee for all the work they did to identify and recommend candidates like Rachael Rollins to the role of U.S. Attorney, and I want to thank President Biden for nominating her for this position. I urge my colleagues to set aside nasty, personal attacks on a supremely well-qualified woman, and to support the discharge and ultimate confirmation of Rachael Rollins, a supremely qualified candidate who is ready to serve on day one, as the next U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
Thank you, Madam President, I yield the floor.
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