T Nation

Ashcroft is Out

And the word is that White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez will be named the new AG – interesting, as most of the speculation around Gonzalez surrounded the possibility of his being appointed to the USSC.

Given Bush will definitely push for an originalist or textualist Hispanic, I think this signals he plans to re-nominate Miguel Estrada once there is a vacancy.

Bush Taps Gonzales,
White House Counsel,
To Succeed Ashcroft

November 10, 2004 1:10 p.m.

WASHINGTON – President Bush has chosen White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, a Texas confidant and one of the most prominent Hispanics in the administration, to succeed Attorney General John Ashcroft, people familiar with the situation told the Associated Press today.

Mr. Ashcroft announced his resignation yesterday, along with Commerce Secretary Don Evans, a Texas friend of the president’s.

After a National Security Council meeting, Mr. Bush was sitting down Wednesday with Secretary of State Colin Powell, another figure being closely watched for signs of whether he will stay or go. Mr. Powell has been largely noncommittal when asked about his plans.

Mr. Gonzales, 49, has long been rumored as a leading candidate for a Supreme Court vacancy if one develops. Speculation increased after Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist announced he has thyroid cancer.

Mr. Gonzales’s career has been linked with Mr. Bush for at least a decade, serving as general counsel when Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, and then as secretary of state and as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court.

Mr. Gonzales has been at the center of developing Mr. Bush’s positions on balancing civil liberties with waging the war on terrorism – opening the White House counsel to the same line of criticism that has dogged Mr. Ashcroft. For instance, Mr. Gonzales publicly defended the administration’s policy – essentially repudiated by the Supreme Court and now being fought out in the lower courts – of detaining certain terrorism suspects for extended periods without access to lawyers or courts.

He also wrote a controversial February 2002 memo in which Mr. Bush claimed the right to waive antitorture law and international treaties providing protections to prisoners of war. That position drew fire from human-rights groups, which said it helped lead to the type of abuses uncovered in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq.

Some conservatives also have quietly questioned Mr. Gonzales’s credentials on core social issues. And he once was a partner in a Houston law firm which represented the scandal-ridden energy giant Enron Corp.

The departure of Mr. Ashcroft, a former governor and senator from Missouri, removes perhaps the administration’s most politically polarizing figure. He has been a lightning rod for criticism over his prosecution of the domestic war on terror and his use of the Patriot Act. That legislation, enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, greatly enhanced the powers of law enforcement and has been criticized by civil-liberties advocates.

A senior Justice Department official said Mr. Ashcroft submitted his resignation in a handwritten note on Election Day, before the results were known. “He was ready to move on,” the official said. Mr. Ashcroft had grown weary in recent weeks from dealing with health problems, as well as the stress of his counterterrorism duties, aides said. The 62-year-old attorney general had surgery to remove his gallbladder earlier this year.

Mr. Ashcroft will remain in office at least through the president’s inauguration in January, if not until his successor is sworn into office. His departure could make it easier for Mr. Bush to win congressional approval to renew some provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire and were put off until after the election. Mr. Bush says the law is essential for pursuing the war on terrorism, which he vowed to pursue vigorously if re-elected.

Mr. Evans’s departure means the president has lost a long-time Texas confidant from his inner circle. His resignation, though, suggests that Treasury Secretary John Snow’s hold on his own job is firming. Mr. Evans had been mentioned as a potential candidate to take over Treasury. Officials said yesterday that it is increasingly likely that Mr. Snow would remain in his post to help advance the president’s second-term agenda, which includes a bid to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

Jockeying for to succeed Mr. Evans is brisk, and among the leading candidates is Mercer Reynolds, finance chairman of the president’s re-election campaign and a former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland. Treasury Deputy Secretary Samuel Bodman also is considered a potential successor to Mr. Evans. The former head of Cabot Corp. was deputy secretary of Commerce before taking the Treasury post. Also mentioned in the running is Marc Racicot, the former governor of Montana and chairman of the Bush re-election campaign.

Write to the Online Journal’s editors at newseditors@wsj.com

And the next USSC nominee is: John Ashcroft!

Wouldn’t that just be a bitch?

Lmao Nephorm!!

Bring it on, it will be this generation’s Robert Bork.

I agree that he will look for an originalist and a minority.

I never understood the relevance of originalist interpretation. Originally, didn’t the idea of political participation only apply to white males?

Yeah, I think that’s right. I also think that’s why our constitution is so short and is a living breathing document.

[quote]TravisCS84 wrote:
Originally, didn’t the idea of political participation only apply to white males?


LAND OWNING white males, a.k.a. those with a stake in the outcome.

[quote]TravisCS84 wrote:
Lmao Nephorm!!

Bring it on, it will be this generation’s Robert Bork.

I agree that he will look for an originalist and a minority.

I never understood the relevance of originalist interpretation. Originally, didn’t the idea of political participation only apply to white males?

Yeah, I think that’s right. I also think that’s why our constitution is so short and is a living breathing document. [/quote]

The idea that the Constitution is a “living, breathing” document is consistent with the idea of a judicial oligarchy.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land – it is given this supremacy over all other state and federal law because it is the only law ratified by the people, the states and the federal government.

Given that this ratification is the source of its legitimacy, allowing judges to change its meaning is an anethema. It was ratified and voted on based on what it said, and it should be interpreted in light of how people interpreted it when it was ratified.

While there will certainly be new questions that come up, which weren’t contemplated at the time of ratification, those should still be addressed according to the original meaning, and fit with the original principles as best as one can.

Otherwise, you’re basically saying that while the people, the states and the federal government need to go through the amendment process to add or subtract from the Constitution, 9 USSC judges can decide to add or subtract from the Constitution as they see fit. This is what I meant by judicial oligarchy, and it runs counter to the basic principles of our government. Judges are supposed to interpret laws, not make them.

Aside from that, there are also pragmatic concerns about judicial lawmaking. First, it makes politicians less accountable to their consituents on key political issues. They can just throw up their hands and say, “What can I do? – the court made that law.” Second, it calcifies and intensifies opposition on disputed issues (think abortion) because opponents don’t think they got a say in how a political question was decided, which they would if it were decided in the political arena.

Finally, I have a question concerning consistency of views – I already have an guess, but how do you feel generally about the arguments against passing a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Quite a few of the arguments against that amendment were couched in the idea that one just doesn’t go messing with the Constitution. Yet that’s what the idea of a “living, breathing” Constitution holds sacred: The ability of judges to mess with the meaning of the Constitution and read into it or out of it as they see fit. Surely going through the proper amendment process amounts to less worrisome meddling the the Constitution than judicial lawmaking?

I agree with BB on this one %100… you have to look at the intent of the Framers when determining a Constitutional issue. Applying “If they knew then what we know now” logic to Constitutional interpretation is the road to illegitimacy.

BTW, here’s the text of Ashcroft’s resignation letter:


Letter to the American People

I have had the privilege of meeting with and speaking with many of you on numerous occasions over the past four years. Today, with gratitude toward my fellow Americans, I address you near the close of my time as the Attorney General of the United States.

On November 2nd, I submitted to the President my resignation from the office of Attorney General. The noble work of justice preceded my appointment to this office, and it will continue after I am gone. But my official service to this great cause is drawing to a close. We have accomplished what we set out to accomplish almost four years ago. I am blessed to leave public office in a nation that is safer and stronger than the one I found; a nation in which the flame of freedom illuminates every American and burns a signal fire to a watching world.

And as I graduate from public service to citizen service, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the people and institutions that made my service possible.

I am grateful first to you, the American people, for your partnership in the defense of freedom. As never before, protecting the nation and securing our liberties has brought together public officials and private citizens, the Justice community and the American community. The partnership the men and women of the Justice Department have forged with the American people has seen our nation through the worst attack in its history and has endured to produce an historic era of safety and security. Violent crime is at its lowest rate in three decades. Gun crime prosecutions are at a record high and violent crimes committed with guns are at a record low. Drug use among the nation’s youth is declining. Corporate criminals are facing justice, and integrity has been restored to the nation’s marketplace.

No group of individuals could have aspired to such achievement. No organizational plan could have credibly predicted such success. But in a uniquely American way this generation of Americans has done what so many said could not be done: We have safeguarded both the security and liberty of our fellow Americans in a time of war.

I am deeply grateful to President George W. Bush for the opportunity to serve the American people. Those who know me know that one of the beliefs that have shaped my life is this: In everything we do, we teach those around us. For the past four years, President Bush has taught Americans. His leadership has inspired leadership in others. His courage has made us braver and better advocates for the cause of freedom.

It has been my great honor to serve in his cabinet. I have had the privilege of working alongside a group of men and women of both extraordinary focus and generosity; a group that has shown both discipline in achieving the President’s goals and open-mindedness in accommodating healthy and heartfelt disagreement.

Lastly, I am grateful to God for each day the sun rises on a safe and free America. For the past three years, my every working day has begun with a report ? a catalog of the murderous acts being plotted against Americans. That we have passed these three years in safety and security is a credit to the men and women with whom I serve. But it would be the height of arrogance to assume we achieved this alone. The Psalms remind us: ?Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stands guard in vain.?

My fellow Americans, for four years we have stood watch together. We have endured many things and we have accomplished many more. It has been the honor of my lifetime to stand beside you. And as I take my leave of this privileged post, I know that our efforts have not been in vain. The Builder of our city and the Author of our freedom has stood beside us. He stands beside us still.

John D. Ashcroft
Attorney General of the United States