New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal stepping down to join SEC
New Jersey’s attorney general is stepping down to take a new position at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
Gurbir Grewal is the first Sikh American to hold the position of attorney general in the United States. He is the most high-profile member of Gov. Phil Murphy’s cabinet and one of the most active and influential attorney generals in a generation.
The SEC announced on Tuesday that Grewal has been appointed as the director of the Division of Enforcement, to take effect on July 26.
“Through his efforts standing up to the Trump administration's attacks on New Jersey and our diverse communities, instituting historic reforms in policing, and leading the fight against gun violence, Attorney General Grewal has been an invaluable member of our administration and a dedicated public servant to the residents of New Jersey,” Murphy said in a statement.
Grewal was the Bergen County prosecutor when Murphy chose him to be the state’s top law enforcement officials just after the 2017 election.
A former federal prosecutor, Grewal was appointed county prosecutor by Republican Gov. Chris Christie. But as attorney general he quickly made a progressive mark on the state, fighting the Trump administration in court and changing how the law is enforced in New Jersey.
Grewal moved to draft an Immigrant Trust Directive, which prohibits law enforcement from asking a person about immigration status. It was later expanded in 2019 to prohibit local law enforcement from performing the duties of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
During the Trump administration, Grewal's office sued the federal government over 70 times, over gun laws, immigration, the environment and even former President Donald Trump's Twitter claims about affordable housing.
As the first Sikh-American attorney general in American history, Grewal faced prejudice based on his faith.
In 2018, two New Jersey 101.5 radio hosts were suspended for 10 days after they mocked Grewal and his traditional head covering. They apologized, and Grewal said he'd moved on from the controversy.
“Nelson Mandela powerfully said that no one is born hating another person, because of the color of their skin, their religion, their background, they must learn to hate. And if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love,” Grewal told News 12 at the time.
Grewal also acted on police reform, working to publicly release police disciplinary files and equip every officer with a body worn camera. He also charged 10 correctional police officers after inmates were beaten at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, state's only women's prison.
Gov. Murphy says that he will make a decision on an interim attorney general by the end of the week. That person will serve until January 2022.
If the governor is re-elected to a second term in November, it is possible that he will choose someone else as attorney general for that second term.