By State Representatives Viola Davis, Sandra Scott and Kim Schofield
ATLANTA—In 2023, Georgia’s governor signed Senate Bill 92 into law, introducing a contentious provision that allows for the removal of elected district attorneys from office if they are perceived as not adequately enforcing the law. This move has ignited a fierce debate with many viewing it as a thinly veiled power grab aimed at ousting Democratic prosecutors, particularly those who have expressed reluctance to prosecute abortion-related crimes. The subsequent House Bill 881 has added fuel to the fire, deepening concerns about partisan control over prosecutorial decisions and its potential implications for ongoing criminal investigations. Furthermore, House Bill 983 proposes the repeal of the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission (PAQC) in the state of Georgia, amplifying the controversy.
One of the fundamental principles of democracy is the sanctity of the electoral process. Elected officials, including district attorneys, derive their legitimacy from the votes cast by the people they represent. Senate Bill 92’s provision to remove district attorneys can be seen as a direct challenge to this democratic mandate. Critics argue that this move undermines the will of the voters who elected these officials in the first place.
The partisan undertones of SB 92 and HB 881 are hard to ignore. The concern is that these bills pave the way for a dangerous precedent where elected officials can be targeted and removed from office solely based on political disagreements. The power to control and discipline prosecutors who make decisions that certain individuals or groups do not favor opens the door to a potential abuse of power and manipulation of the justice system for political gain.
One of the more contentious aspects of this legislative push is its potential impact on former President Donald Trump. In Georgia, a grand jury indictment was issued by citizens, sparking an ongoing criminal investigation. SB 92 and HB 881 have raised concerns that these bills may be used to shield Trump from facing legal consequences by allowing for the removal or intimidation of prosecutors involved in the case.
Adding to the controversy, HB 983 proposes the repeal of the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission in Georgia. The PAQC is alleged to serve as a regulatory body responsible for overseeing and disciplining district attorneys. The repeal of this commission raises concerns from supporters of PAQC about the checks and balances in place to ensure the ethical conduct of prosecutors.
The signing of SB 92 and the advancement of HB 881 in Georgia have stirred controversy and sparked debates on the erosion of democratic principles, the potential for partisan manipulation of the justice system and the safeguarding of prosecutorial independence. In parallel, House Bill 983’s proposal to repeal PAQC adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing discussions. As these bills continue to be scrutinized and debated, their impact on the future of Georgia’s justice system, democratic processes and prosecutorial accountability remains a subject of intense concern and scrutiny.
Rep. Sandra Scott represents District 76, which includes portions of Clayton County. Rep. Kim Schofield represents the citizens of District 63, which includes portions of Fulton County. Rep. Viola Davis represents District 87, which includes portions of DeKalb County.