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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Political appointees, the Constitution, the rule of law, and the common good
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Friday, June 22, 2007

Political appointees, the Constitution, the rule of law, and the common good

the la times, no doubt reflecting its further-to-the-right ownership (see, offers this in today's op-ed section on the alberto gonzales/justice department scandal...
Attempting to resuscitate a rapidly expiring "scandal," congressional Democrats have issued subpoenas to former White House Counsel Harriet E. Miers and former White House political affairs director Sara M. Taylor, demanding their testimony regarding the administration's 2006 decision to replace eight U.S. attorneys. [...] The president, however, should stand firm and refuse to permit his subordinates' compliance. He can, and should, claim executive privilege.

From the start, this affair has lacked legal substance. There is no evidence that firing these U.S. attorneys was unlawful or inappropriate. Chosen for political reasons, they can legally and morally be fired for political reasons: insufficient loyalty, a perceived failure to pursue administration priorities or that someone with better political contacts has come along. Politics is not always a pretty business, and anyone seeking job security should not take a political appointment.

Moreover, there is a core constitutional principle at stake here. Political appointees like U.S. attorneys exercise the president's authority, and they serve at his pleasure.


The Democratic leadership understands very well that the president was entitled to fire these individuals for political reasons. It knows how little job protection political appointees have; the very same rules apply to congressional staff. The newly emboldened Congress is on a grand fishing expedition, hoping to uncover something to weaken and discredit the administration and the presidency itself.

Because there is no legitimate congressional concern here to weigh against the president's clear interest in keeping White House political personnel deliberations confidential, a claim of executive privilege should be upheld by the judiciary. The president's answer to both House and Senate subpoenas should be "See you in court."

By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, [both of who] served in the Justice Department under presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

while i do whole-heartedly agree with the "see you in court" suggestion, i must point out that there are two truly astounding assumption that pervade this op-ed by messrs. casey and rivkin... the first is that appointing justice department officials to serve purely POLITICAL purposes is O.K. and that giving them the ax for NOT serving purely political purposes is equally O.K... the second, equally troubling assumption, is that these appointees serve entirely at the PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT... there is absolutely no mention anywhere of honoring the fundamentals of the constitution, observing the rule of law, or serving the common good... none... (and may i point out that the "constitutional principle" of serving at the president's "pleasure" does NOT include negating the OTHER constitutional principles...)

i seriously don't know how any discussion of the ins and outs of presidential appointments could, in all conscience, NOT mention the constitution, the rule of law, or the common good... of COURSE political appointees are expected to follow the policy guidelines set down by the president, guidelines that are, presumably, crafted to serve the common good, observe the rule of law, AND uphold the constitution, but they are also required to do so within the very clear guidelines set forth in that document and the body of law that supports it... when the president's agenda is crafted solely for the aim of accruing more power and money for the political party and financial backers that the president represents, often in contravention of the constitution those political appointees were sworn to uphold and in violation of the rule of law, serving AT THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT is no longer a valid mandate...

what has taken place in the bush administration is a complete and total perversion of the political appointment process, an abandonment of the principle of serving the common good, and a willful negation of the constitution... THAT'S the "scandal," messrs. casey and rivkin... when you find it in your hearts to point out that our president and everyone in the executive branch must be devoted to upholding the constitution, acting in accordance with the rule of law, and serving the common good, i will be willing to listen... not before...

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