Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Daily Kos: Gonzales Then, Gonzales Now

Daily Kos: Gonzales Then, Gonzales Now

Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 10:28:08 AM PST

Following up on Kagro's post, Big Tent Dem at TalkLeft discusses Gonzales's evolving views of the Constitutional responsibilities of the judiciary and executive branches, and makes the case for Gonzales's impeachment.

During his confirmation hearings, Gonzales was asked his views on the power of the executive as Commander-in-Chief:

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:...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.

That understanding and agreement with Justice O'Connor's Hamdi statement, and any pretense of the Bush administration actually complying with it, has apparently flown right out the window. With this statement today, Gonzales says the judiciary should just ignore its Constitutional responsibility when Bush says so:

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."

Given this repudiation of the Constitution, coming from the Attorney General of the United States, Big Tent Dem is right:

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.

It's time to take John Dean's advice: impeachment should start with the Cabinet, Alberto Gonzales first.

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