The Role of the Attorney General and Why History Will Repeat Itself
Posted on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 05:00:36 AM EST
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Many people think the role of Attorney General is simply to be the nation's "top cop," the chief criminal law enforcer. But it is much more. The role of the Attorney General is to serve as America's lawyer, in civil as well as criminal matters. He is not the President's lawyer. He is our lawyer.
It is critical that the Senate evaluate the past record of a nominee for Attorney General in its "advise and consent" role. While Senators prefer to give deference to a President's choice in cabinet positions, they cannot merely serve as a rubber stamp.
John Ashcroft was the most controversial nominee for Attorney General ever. All but one Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee (Russ Feingold, of all people) voted against Ashcroft. Their arguments are worth re-reading for a sense of to expect when Alberto Gonzales faces the same test.
Here are some selected quotes I've put together from the 59-page FDCH transcript of the Senate Judiciary committee hearing held on January 30, 2001, at which the vote was 10 to 8 to send Ashcroft's nomination on to the full Senate (transcript available at Lexis.com,) followed by some thoughts as to what likely will happen with Alberto Gonzales:
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