Balkin on Gonzales

Jack Balkin considers the Gonzales nomination. A taste:

But however fine a fellow he is, he has done something that is, in my mind, inexcusable. He commissioned and put his name on a series of despicable legal memos that justified torture and prisoner abuse and that tried to avoid America's obligations under international law. In ordinary times, this would in itself be disqualifying. But, alas, these are not ordinary times.

It is time for those who think the Bush Administration has gone too far to stand up to the President, to make the legal case against his Administration's policies and appointments. For years conservatives railed against judicial activism. It is time for liberals to start railing against government officials— including judges— who show disrespect for basic Rule of Law values, who flout basic protections of American constitutional law and international human rights law, and who seek to concentate ever greater power in an unaccountable executive.

Even if (and especially if) Gonzales is confirmed, it is vitally important to make these points loudly and often. Liberals must stand for something other than the correctness of Roe v. Wade.

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4 Responses to Balkin on Gonzales

  1. Chris says:

    Not just liberals need to oppose this, but conservatives as well. Don’t think for a minute that true conservatives like what’s going on, either.

    The judiciary should ask Gonzales’ explicit opinion on whether there are in fact any limits at all to presidential power, and, if none, what makes the president any different from any other absolute despot. And then, why he thinks our constitutional republic can survive when a president has no restraints to his power.

  2. Katherine says:

    That line on Roe stings, because I think it’s true. I assume that is why Schumer applauded Gonzales as “already a big improvement” and Leahy called him “non-controversial.”

    Here is my suggestion: we filibuster. But, we say we would be delighted to allow a vote–just as soon as the administration hands over the documents on Abu Ghraib, ghost detainees, extraordinary rendition, and prisoner treatment that we have requested and they have withheld. Or as soon as our Senate colleagues vote to issue subpoenas.

    If needed, we hold an actual filibuster, reading from the reports and documents on the Abu Ghraib scandal, the Maher Arar case, and the torture memos.

    And we see what happens.

    If anyone has the ear of a Democratic Senator, could you yell this into their ear? Thanks.

  3. Doran Williams says:

    I sent Jack Balkins’ comments via email to a lawyer colleague in Austin, a guy who practices defense law for insurance companies. He shot back that if I did not take him off my email list, he would send me stories containing “the truth” about Gonzales. I asked him to do just that. Haven’t heard from him. Do you know of any “stories” which deny that Gonzales had an involvement in the torture memos, et al? Who would float stories of that nature?

    I like Katherine’s suggestion on how to proceed. Bargain with the bastards to get something in in return for dropping opposition. Great tactic.

  4. Nah. The overlooked part of the calculation is that, to the administration’s allies, providing justification for torture is a recommendation. The more liberals oppose, the more the administration will get right-wing allies. Oh, sure, make some noise about it. But save the filibuster for the now-inevitable Supreme Court nominee battles.

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