Wednesday, January 17, 2007
This is solely my opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of Talk Left and its contributors.
When Alberto Gonzales was nominated to become Attorney General of the United States, I, and thousands of others, opposed his confirmation:
As the prime legal architect for the policy of torture adopted by the Bush Administration, Gonzales's advice led directly to the abandonment of longstanding federal laws, the Geneva Conventions, and the United States Constitution itself. . . . In January 2002, Gonzales advised the President that the United States Constitution does not apply to his actions as Commander in Chief, and thus the President could declare the Geneva Conventions inoperative. Gonzales's endorsement of the August 2002 Bybee/Yoo Memorandum approved a definition of torture so vague and evasive as to declare it nonexistent. Most shockingly, he has embraced the unacceptable view that the President has the power to ignore the Constitution, laws duly enacted by Congress and International treaties duly ratified by the United States. He has called the Geneva Conventions "quaint." . . .
Now, Attorney General Gonzales has the audacity to state that the Judiciary should not enforce the Constitution and the laws of the land when the President chooses to ignore his responsibility to faithfully execute the laws and the Constitution of the United States:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says federal judges are unqualified to make rulings affecting national security policy, ramping up his criticism of how they handle terrorism cases. In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday, Gonzales says judges generally should defer to the will of the president and Congress when deciding national security cases. He also raps jurists who “apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences.”
I think the Attorney General could not be clearer. He advocates the vitiation of the Constitution by the judiciary when the President so desires. He is unfit for the office of Attorney General. He should be removed from office. More.
In his confirmation hearings, Gonzales was questioned on his view of Presidential Commander in Chief power:
SEN. DURBIN: But you believe he has that authority; he could ignore a law passed by this Congress, signed by this president or another one, and decide that it is unconstitutional and refuse to comply with that law?
MR. GONZALES: Senator, again, you're asking me where the -- hypothetically, does that authority exist? And I guess I would have to say that hypothetically that authority may exist. But let me also just say that we certainly understand and recognize the role of the courts in our system of government. We have to deal with some very difficult issues here, very, very complicated. Sometimes the answers are not so clear. The president's position on this is that ultimately the judges, the courts will make the decision as to whether or not we've drawn the right balance here. And in certain circumstance the courts have agreed with the administration positions; in certain circumstances, the courts have disagreed. And we will respect those decisions.
SEN. DURBIN: Fifty-two years ago, a president named Harry Truman decided to test that premise -- Youngstown Sheet and Tube versus the Supreme Court -- or in the Supreme Court -- versus Sawyer in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said, as you know, "President Truman, you're wrong. You don't have the authority to decide what's constitutional, what laws you like and don't like." I'm troubled that you would think, as our incoming attorney general, that a president can pick or choose the laws that he thinks are unconstitutional and ultimately wait for that test in court to decide whether or not he's going to comply with the law.MR. GONZALES: Senator, you asked me whether or not it was theoretically possible that the Congress could pass a law that we would view as unconstitutional. My response was -- is that obviously we would take that very, very seriously, look at that very carefully. But I suppose it is theoretically possible that that would happen. Let me just add one final point. We in the executive branch, of course, understand that there are limits upon presidential power; very, very mindful of Justice O'Connor's statement in the Hamdi decision that "a state of war is not a blank check for the president of the United States" with respect the rights of American citizens. I understand that, and I agree with that.
In his speech today, Attorney General Gonzales utterly repudiates the view he expressed under oath to the Senate. He now states that it is his view that a state of war is in fact a blank check for the President, that there are no limits to Presidential wartime power and that he no longer recognizes the role of the courts in our system of government regarding national security issues.
Alberto Gonzales should never have been confirmed as Attorney General. His conduct in office confirms our judgment at the time. His speech today makes clear that he must be removed from office. He will not respect the Constitution and the laws of the United States. These views are simply unacceptable in the Nation's chief law enforcement officer. He must go.