As ThinkProgress points out, this is a very odd choice for this important position (unless, of course, the president really is trying to get the Republicans to like him). Yes, it's traditional that the senators from a state make recommendations and the President chooses one. But if he's wingnut Sen. Mike Lee's chief legal adviser, it sure seems like he's been giving him some peculiar legal advice:
As ThinkProgress explained after news broke that Barlow was being vetted for this job, Barlow’s close association with Lee raises very serious questions about whether he can be trusted to enforce laws intended to protect ordinary Americans ability to earn a living, be safe from natural disasters and enjoy a secure retirement. Before the Senate even considers confirming Barlow to be the top federal attorney in Utah, Barlow should be required to answer a number of difficult questions about whether he shares any of Lee’s most indefensible positions on the Constitution:
- Will Barlow Vigorously Protect Seniors’ Right To Social Security? As a Senate candidate, Lee claimed that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to provide “a decent retirement plan.” Barlow should disavow this radical belief before he can be confirmed.
- Will Barlow Vigorously Protect Seniors’ Right To Medicare? In the same speech, Lee also claimed that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to provide “health care” — a view that would invalidate Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and the Affordable Care Act. Barlow should also disavow this radical belief before he can be confirmed.
- Will Barlow Enforce Child Labor Laws? Lee believes that child labor laws are unconstitutional because the Constitution “was designed to be a little bit harsh.” Before Barlow can be a U.S. Attorney, he must swear under oath that he will enforce federal child labor laws without reservation.
- Will Barlow Enforce Food Safety Laws? In a radio interview last January, Lee said that food safety is “not necessarily the role of the federal government.” As a U.S. Attorney, however, Barlow will be responsible for prosecuting criminal violations of laws ensuring that our food is safe to eat. Before Barlow can be a U.S. Attorney, he must swear under oath that he will enforce federal food safety laws without reservation.
- Does Barlow Believe That The Constitution Requires The Poor To Starve? In the same radio interview, Lee also said that federal anti-poverty programs are “not necessarily the role of the federal government” under the Constitution. Barlow should explain whether he shares his boss’ apparent belief that food stamps and similar programs are unconstitutional.
- Does Barlow Believe That Federal Disaster Relief Is Unconstitutional? Lee has also suggested that federal disaster relief violates the Constitution. Barlow should disavow this radical belief before he can be confirmed.
Barlow’s decision to leave a successful and lucrative law practice in order to work for someone with Lee’s contempt for the Constitution raises serious concerns about Barlow’s fitness to serve as Utah’s top federal attorney. It is, of course, possible that Barlow does not share his boss’ views — indeed it is even possible that Barlow sought the U.S. Attorney job because he wanted a face-saving way to leave a job that forces him to push a dangerous and radical interpretation of the Constitution. Before Barlow can be confirmed, however, the Senate owes the people a Utah a duty to ensure that Barlow will not use his position in the Justice Department to push Mike Lee’s radical constitutional agenda.