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Keller @ Large: Rachael Rollins' shocking resignation has impact on politics and policy

Keller @ Large: Rachael Rollins' shocking resignation has impact on politics and policy
Keller @ Large: Rachael Rollins' shocking resignation has impact on politics and policy 02:14

BOSTON – Two things understood by everyone who's observed U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Rachael Rollins at close range - she's smart, and she's tough.

The stellar resume - from the National Labor Relations Board to white-shoe law firm Bingham McCutchen to the US attorney's office followed by stints as general counsel for several state agencies - attests to her legal smarts and work ethic.

Coming out of nowhere to beat a crowded field for Suffolk County District Attorney in 2018 speaks to her street smarts. And as a star athlete in high school and college, Rollins demonstrated not only physical and mental toughness, but an understanding of how to win within the rule of lacrosse.

So as we await the release of the Justice Department investigation that apparently led to her resignation announcement, we are left to wonder: what did she do that was serious enough to warrant pressure to quit and her acquiescence to it?

Pending those facts, we can already say this is a blow to the Biden administration and, potentially, the criminal justice reform movement Rollins was closely associated with.

Biden has made it a point to select Black U.S. Attorney nominees, and his nomination of Rollins was a boost for advocates of a turn towards diversion and restitution instead of criminal prosecution for "low level" offenses.

But just as right-wing critics like Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Tom Cotton went to town on her record as DA when she was nominated for U.S. Attorney, they will surely tee off on her now.

Rollins was one of eight Black women nominated for U.S. Attorney by Biden, and if he chooses to replace her with another Black female, there is no shortage of qualified prospects.

Local NAACP President Tanisha Sullivan, Attorney General Andrea Campbell and Mass. SJC Chief Justice Kimberly Budd come to mind, although the latter two might consider that a demotion.

Rollins, who never minced words or held back on her opinions, has plenty of detractors, and they're surely gleeful today. For everyone else, pending some facts about what happened here, shock is the operative emotion.

At how someone so smart could apparently step in it so seriously, and how someone so tough and devoted to her work could walk away from it.

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