The Nomination Of Alberto Gonzales As AG Drives Balkin Mad

Yale's Jack Balkin Is Shrill Shrillblog

The nomination of Alberto Gonzales to be Attorney General has driven Yale Law School professor Jack Balkin into shrill unholy madness:

Balkinization: Gonzales is not a doctrinaire conservative. He is a loyal servant and friend to the President. He is a team player. It is unclear what his deepest moral convictions are. 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. There are important constitutional, legal and democratic values at stake in the next four years. They have been repeatedly sacrificed by this Administation, in its fetish for secrecy and unaccountability and its endless thirst for unreviewable power. And the President seems to have taken from his victory at the polls the belief that he is entitled to seize even more power and cut even more corners. It is important to begin making the case before the American people that our Constitution, our democracy, and the Rule of Law itself have been placed in jeopardy-- not by the decisions of activist judges in Massachusetts, but by overweening and ambitious members of the Bush Administration-- and that the legal and constitutional values we hold dear must be preserved and defended vigorously or they will slowly but surely be dissipated. Daring to ask why a former judge who has defended the President's right to torture and mistreat prisoners in violation of international law should be made the nation's chief law enforcement officer is a good place to start.


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