Via the Volokh Conspiracy, we came across this intriguing piece, by Murray Waas for the National Journal, about how Attorney General Alberto Gonzales delegated exceptionally broad powers to his two youthful underlings: D. Kyle Sampson and the Magnificent Monica Goodling.
Here’s the lede:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signed a highly confidential order in March 2006 delegating to two of his top aides — who have since resigned because of their central roles in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys — extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department….
In the order, Gonzales delegated to his then-chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, and his White House liaison “the authority, with the approval of the Attorney General, to take final action in matters pertaining to the appointment, employment, pay, separation, and general administration” of virtually all non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department, including all of the department’s political appointees who do not require Senate confirmation. Monica Goodling became White House liaison in April 2006, the month after Gonzales signed the order.
Professor Orin Kerr’s take:
Remarkable. And assuming this story checks out, it certainly explains why Gonzales seemed so clueless about the U.S. Attorney firings. It seems that Gonzales had taken himself completely out of the loop of all DOJ political appointee hiring. He had delegated that role completely to two 30-somethings, Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling; his only role was a formality, required just so that OLC would find the practice constitutional.
We take issue with Professor Kerr’s dismissive reference to the Magnificent Monica Goodling as a mere “30-something.” And now that she has been granted immunity, we can’t wait for Goodling to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.
All mysteries will be revealed, and this entire U.S. Attorney mess will be straightened out, after Monica Goodling appears before the House Judiciary Committee in all her radiance. She will dazzle the Committee, as well as the American people, with her command performance, the likes of which have never been seen on Capitol Hill.
Goodling’s crisp and cogent answers to even the most challenging queries from legislators will cause jaws to drop. Her command of both the facts and the law concerning the U.S. Attorney firings will amaze the nation. It will be just like the final courtroom scene in “Legally Blonde,” in which another plucky, underestimated blonde triumphed against all odds.
At the end of her testimony, Rep. John Conyers will publicly apologize to Monica Goodling for dragging her good name through the mud. Faith in the U.S. Department of Justice will be restored. Truth, justice, and the American way will be vindicated.
And then President Bush will dispatch Monica Goodling to Iraq, as head of a special mission designed to fix the debacle over there. There is nothing that our Monica can’t do!!!
Secret Order By Gonzales Delegated Extraordinary Powers To Aides [National Journal]
Did Sampson and Goodling Have Total Control of DOJ Political Hiring? [Volokh Conspiracy]