Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Wonder whether John Conyers or Patrick Leahy will investigate


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It’s a stretch, Joseph. To make it parallel, how about an accusation that a judge is waiting to retire because some politicians in his district complained about his rulings and he wants to give himself a chance to rule in a way to curry favor? Or that a judge is pressured to retire because he is ruling the wrong way when Republicans are before the bench in corruption investigations? And the relevant administrative office of the courts keeps list of whether judges are "loyal Bushies"?


Prosecutors serve at the pleasure of the President, who has the responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Judges are given lifetime appointments to insulate them from politics. You know this, of course. You also know that prosecuting and judging have poltiical dimensions. You probably also know that a good bit of the "shock" the Democrats are expressing is political. The A.G. brought it on himself. This judge and his colleagues, who are a little too frank about their own motives, shouldn’t be let off the hook too easily.

Joseph: I’m sure that if Conyers and Leahy want to investigate the judges, then, you’ll fully support the right of Congress to do so, and won’t allow the judges to determine how Congress goes about its job!

Pleasure of the President is fine, but if the WH was attempting to derail investigations, that’s a serious matter, and everyone knows it (including Hatch, who keeps pushing a "no evidence" line, not "it would be OK if the White House was trying to get Carol Lam off track").

And precisely because the President has a duty under the take care clause, and Congress has a duty in any potential impeachment proceedings to judge whether or not he actually has taken care, Congress has a duty to follow up on allegations that political operatives in the White House are fully politicizing the US Attorneys.

It’s all part of the wise balance of the framers. Let Congress do its work, my good man!

(That’s my attempt at civil encouragement, in keeping with the new tone around here!)


I have no doubt but that, if anyone in the Bush Administration so much as swiped a pen, Congressional Demcorats will be on it.

And of course I don’t expect anyone in Congress actually to investigate those judges in South Dakota.

At the same time, I will note that there’s a difference between failing to investigate something the WH wanted investigated and investigating something the WH didn’t want investigated. I’ll also note that there is such a thing as executive privilege, which arguably protects West Wing conversations about the former, but not necessarily about the latter, assuming that there’s a plausible allegation of some legal wrongdoing in the latter case.

Let’s also remember that while Congress can make certain that the President is, within his legitimate discretion, actually taking care that the laws are faithfully executed, Congress isn’t entitled to micromanage the executive branch.

And I said all this without mentioning the L-word. And I was civil.

Hmmm... I dunno... they weren’t terribly interested in investigating Renquist when he wouldn’t retire from the Supreme Court. Must be one of those grey areas, when Judges are encouraged to KEEP their jobs.

Your abstract defense of the administration seems to indicate some doubt. Henceforth, I’ll do my civil best to encourage that doubt.


This is a fun word with no content, my friend. Absolutely nothing that Congress has done or has proposed in this affair can fairly be called "micromanaging." It’s all ex post, for one thing. And it’s all within the legitimate realm of oversight and investigatory power. This is a word that is valuable primarily because of how it frames the issue (small-minded, niggling, school-marmish busybodies, to be contrasted with the manly, vigorous, CEO executive).

I’m not saying that you are using it that way, I’ve just never been able to figure out what it’s supposed to refer to with respect to the attorney firing scandal, and I hear it so often that I wonder if it has a focus group source somewhere. Surely inquiring into the grounds of firing when there are such serious allegations (and facts) on the table is not micromanaging. It’s oversight.


I’m still not convinced that in every case there is anything other than a policy disagreement. In those cases, where executive discretion is appropriate, Congressional oversight looks a whole lot like interference. Or, if you will, an attempt at micromanagement.

If that’s the word of the week, by the way, I didn’t get the memo.

I don’t know what to make of all of this but I do think that some aspiring screenplay writer has, in here, the substance of his first comedic effort: the judicial branch meets Weekend at Bernie’s.

"First Monday In October At Bernie’s"

"The Star Chamber At Bernie’s"

I like it!

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