Politics

Alberto Gonzales Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGWe’re liveblogging Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s desperate fight for his political life testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is just getting underway. Our commentary will be added continuously to this post (until we eventually migrate to a new post). So just refresh your browser for the latest.
9:35: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), SJC Chairman, has been reading a lengthy introductory statement. It’s way harsh on AlGo.
(Nice tie, Senator Leahy — alternating mint and forest green stripes. And a crisp white shirt — not a button-down-collar, thankfully. Politicians dress so much better than judges.)
9:41: Leahy gets in a dig about the White House being content to turn U.S. Attorney’s Offices into outposts of the Bush Administration.
The camera cuts to Gonzales, whose lower lip juts out defiantly — and he shakes his head vigorously, to show disagreement with Leahy’s statement. Will the famously mild-mannered Gonzales actually display some cojones?
More discussion after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Alberto Gonzales: In the Hot Seat (Part 1)”

Pregnant Belly 2 Above the Law blog.JPGThis just in from One First Street. The Associated Press reports:

The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long- awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.

The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

The opponents of the act “have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

The decision pitted the court’s conservatives against its liberals, with President Bush’s two appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, siding with the majority.

This ruling lends support to those who predict — like Jan Crawford Greenburg, in Supreme Conflict — that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito will move the Court significantly to the right in the years ahead. Before Justice Alito replaced Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a decision like this one would have required the conservatives to secure TWO swing votes, AMK and SOC, instead of just one. That frequently doomed the conservatives to defeat in the big-ticket cases.
So Justice Alito, appointed to the Court by President Bush, probably made all the difference here. As Senatrix Barbara Boxer recently observed: “Elections have consequences.”
Update: For more detailed commentary, check out Lyle Denniston’s SCOTUSblog post, which quotes extensively from Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent. To read the opinion itself, click here (PDF).
Court Backs Ban on Abortion Procedure [Associated Press]
Court upholds federal abortion ban [SCOTUSblog]
Gonzales v. Carhart (PDF) [SCOTUSblog]
Senator Boxer: Elections Have Consequences [YouTube]

supreme court 1.jpg* The National Bank Act preempts state regulation of mortgage lenders, even those that are operating subsidiaries of banks and not banks themselves. [U.S. Supreme Court (PDF)]
* Payphone operators can sue for compensation from long-distance carriers. [U.S. Supreme Court (PDF)]
* Department of Education can use number of pupils rather than number of school districts in determining which districts to ignore as statistical outliers for the purposes of the Federal Impact Aid Program. [U.S. Supreme Court (PDF)]
* Let’s see whether this any impact on pork whatsoever. [Jurist]
* The loner gunman. [New York Times]

old lady elderly woman drug dealer Above the Law Blog.jpg* This is what will happen if we don’t reform the Social Security system. [Decatur Daily News]
* There’s a reason this, like the mainstream dairy industry, is regulated. Plus, it’s not exactly suitable for dunking oreos. [Inside Bay Area]
* If you need a break from US politics, then check out the other presidential free-for-all, going down in France. [RTE News]
* Fleshbot is not just a website. [Pink Tentacle via The Trademark Blog]
* Is internet radio on its way out? I don’t much care about Sirius, but what about Pandora, or the other stations you stream at work? [Tech News World]

musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFSome notable moves within the legal profession:
Government to Private Sector:
* Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, to LeBoeuf Lamb in DC. Last November, Steele lost his bid to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate.
* Michele Hirshman, who served as Eliot Spitzer’s top deputy at the Attorney General’s office before he became Governor, is joining Paul Weiss, as a litigation partner. Described by the New York Times as “very smart, very tough and rather short,” she sounds perfectly diva-licious.
Lateral Moves:
* Antitrust superstar Charles “Rick” Rule, to Cadwalader, from Fried Frank. This truly IS like musical chairs: Cadwalader, Rule’s new home, recently lost its antitrust group to Skadden.
* Celebrated criminal defense lawyer Abbe Lowell — who did an excellent job defending Hamlet against murder charges — is moving from Chadbourne & Parke to McDermott Will & Emery.
* Mark Holscher and Jeffrey Sinek are joining the Los Angeles office of Kirkland & Ellis. They’re coming from O’Melveny & Myers and Thelen Reid, respectively. From the Law Blog:

Holscher and Sinek are best friends. They were roommates when they served as federal prosecutors in Los Angeles. Holscher, 44, served as an assistant U.S. Attorney from 1989-1995; Sinek, 46, served from 1989 to 1994. Sinek was the best man at Holscher’s wedding; Holscher was a groomsman in Sinek’s. Both graduated from Boalt Hall law school. Holscher told the Law Blog they’ve always wanted to work together.

Alexandra Korry small Alexandra D Korry Above the Law blog.jpgSuch ambiguously gay commentary led an anonymous reader to quip: “Hope that Alexandra Korry doesn’t read about this…”
On The Move: Charles “Rick” Rule [Antitrust Review]
Kirkland Beefs Up West Coast White-Collar Practice [WSJ Law Blog]
Abbe Lowell to Join McDermott from Chadbourne [WSJ Law Blog]
Former Maryland Pol Michael Steele Joins LeBoeuf Lamb [WSJ Law Blog]
Spitzer’s Longtime No. 2 Michele Hirshman to Join Paul Weiss [WSJ Law Blog]

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgWe are very, very excited. The magnificent Monica Goodling, the former Justice Department lawyer involved in the controverisal U.S. Attorney firings, may be coming to our living room!
Alas, Goodling won’t be visiting us in person (although we hereby issue her a standing invitation). But we’re hopeful that she’ll be appearing on our television, via C-SPAN, in the near future. From Fox News:

The House Judiciary Committee is set to vote on whether to grant Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ former counsel immunity from prosecution and force her to testify about the firings of eight federal prosecutors.

“I am hopeful we can approve immunity so that we can schedule her to testify as soon as possible and begin to clear up the many inconsistencies and gaps surrounding this matter,” Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., said in a statement Tuesday.

A two-thirds vote of the panel is required to approve the resolution, which would direct the House counsel to apply to U.S. District Court for a grant of immunity for Monica Goodling, Conyers’ statement said.

We urge the House Judiciary Committee to approve immunity, so Monica Goodling can be beamed into the homes of millions of Americans.
Meanwhile, in other Goodling-related news, one of you drew our attention to an interesting article about her alma mater, Regent University School of Law. It’s a bit dated, but there’s a hook: it’s by Charlie Savage, who just won a Pulitzer for his coverage of President Bush’s use of signing statements. Congratulations, Charlie!
It’s an excellent read. Here are the last two paragraphs:

One third-year [Regent law] student, Chamie Riley, said she rejected the idea that any government official who invokes her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination could be a good representative of Regent.

As Christians, she said, Regent students know “you should be morally upright. You should not be in a situation where you have to plead the Fifth.”

Bite your tongue, Chamie Riley! You are not fit to hold Monica Goodling’s red Solo cup.
House Panel to Vote on Immunity for Gonzales Aide, Monica Goodling [Fox News]
Scandal puts spotlight on Christian law school [Boston Globe]
Earlier: Prior (adoring) ATL coverage of Monica Goodling (scroll down)

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgSome of you have taken issue with our worship of Monica Goodling, the Justice Department lawyer who finds herself at the center of the firestorm over the U.S. Attorney firings. We’ve praised her as an up-and-coming DOJ diva; but some of you have argued that a true diva wouldn’t take the Fifth.
Fair enough; and normally we might agree. But Goodling isn’t hiding behind the Fifth Amendment like a shrinking violet. Instead, she is invoking it boldly, defiantly. And she’s going on the offensive against the Democrats who have cast aspersions on her simply for availing herself of constitutional protections.
From the Washington Post:

In a letter to House Democrats, Goodling’s attorneys lambasted Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and his counterpart in the Senate, Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), for questioning whether Goodling was hiding criminal activity by refusing to testify before Congress.

Attorneys John M. Dowd and Jeffrey King wrote that Goodling’s assertion of her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination “can in no way be interpreted to suggest that Ms. Goodling herself participated in any criminal activity.”

“Your and Senator Leahy’s recent suggestions to the contrary are unfortunately reminiscent of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who infamously labeled those who asserted their constitutional right to remain silent before his committee ‘Fifth Amendment Communists,’” the attorneys wrote.

Yeah, that’s kinda awesome. Chairman Conyers, have you no sense of decency?
Attorneys for Gonzales Aide Criticize Congressional Democrats [Washington Post]

Alberto Gonzales 2 Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGAttorney General Alberto Gonzales may be slightly more secure in his position these days than in the recent past, when it was looking like “Gonzales” was Spanish for “canned.” But he’s not out of the woods yet — which is why speculation about possible successors continues.
Ben Wittes, writing for TNR Online, has some excellent insights. His overall take:

[B]etween a sinking administration that still demands loyalty above all else and congressional Democrats keen on using their new oversight powers, finding a candidate who satisfies both sides will be hard. The next attorney general must be someone acceptable enough to Democrats not just to get confirmed but to tamp down the fire Gonzales has witlessly set.

But he must also be enough of a conservative to satisfy the White House. And he needs a reputation for probity and moral seriousness sufficient to speak to the public and to Congress with the respect that Gonzales obviously lacks. It’s a tall order–a pinch so tight that it squeezes out almost all of the names being bandied about in public.

Wittes then marches through various possible nominees. Discussion continues, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Possible Replacements for Alberto Gonzales”

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgThe House Democrats just won’t leave Monica Goodling alone. Even after the Justice Department lawyer invoked the Fifth Amendment privilege, the Dems still want to have a little “conversation” with her. From the NYT:

House Democrats on Tuesday requested a private interview with an aide to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales who has asserted her constitutional right not to testify at a public hearing about the dismissals of United States attorneys.

Representative John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sought the interview in a letter to a lawyer for the aide, Monica Goodling, who is on leave as the Justice Department’s liaison to the White House…. Mr. Conyers’s letter said that House lawyers wanted to question Ms. Goodling to evaluate the legality of her refusal to testify. It said she could not assert the privilege as a blanket justification not to appear.

Look, guys, she’s just not that into you. Can’t you just leave her alone? Go beat up on Kyle Sampson some more — we think he still has some lunch money left in his pockets.
(Our suspicion: Chairman Conyers wants to offer Goodling a babysitting job. ‘Cause John Conyers loves making lawyers babysit his children. He thinks the kids absorb legal knowledge by osmosis. And he’s heard about Goodling’s legendary brownies!)
Meanwhile, over at the WSJ Law Blog, Peter Lattman gets in a cheap double entendre at Monica’s expense:
Monica Goodling Congressional Democrats to Goodling Unzip It Monica M Goodling Above the Law blog.jpg
Are we this poor woman’s only defenders?
Democrats Seek to Interview Gonzales Aide [New York Times]
Congressional Democrats to Goodling: Unzip It! [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Monica Goodling (scroll down)

email e-mail message microsoft outlook Above the Law.jpgThis past weekend’s NYT Week in Review had an interesting article on how they don’t make U.S. attorneys like they used to. Here’s the lede, which discusses the email habits of some of the fired United States Attorneys:

The e-mail is pleading, imploring and often so very careful. In messages sent to their bosses at the Justice Department, federal prosecutors react to their firing.

One federal prosecutor, Margaret M. Chiara of Michigan, notes that her office’s firearms prosecutions are up, and that her firing “makes me so sad.” Another prosecutor, David Iglesias of New Mexico, asks a senior Justice Department official for a telephone conversation to set a day of departure, promising that “my call will be pleasant and respectful.”

Another fired prosecutor, Paul Charlton of Arizona, sends an urgent e-mail message to the Justice Department, asking that its spokespeople help explain to the news media why he was being fired, instead of his speaking to reporters himself.

The dismissed prosecutors sound like jilted lovers, trying to salvage whatever dignity they can after the abrupt termination of a long-term relationship.
Two quibbles with the article. First, one of the sources quoted, Professor Bruce Green, is identified as “a former assistant federal prosecutor.” He should have been identified as a “former federal prosecutor,” since that’s what he was (or a “former assistant U.S. attorney,” if one wanted to be more technical about it).
(The taxonomy of titles relating to U.S. attorneys and AUSAs is so frequently messed up. For example, former line attorneys get called “former U.S. attorneys” with regularity. It’s a pet peeve of ours.)
Second, Carol Lam, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California (S.D. Cal.), is credited with the Jerry Lewis investigation. We’ve been through this already, people: you’re thinking of Debra Wong Yang. See here and here.
Please get your Asian female prosecutors straight. Thank you.
Gone Is the Swaggering Prince of Prosecution [New York Times]
Carol Lam: Not Targeted Over the Jerry Lewis Investigation [Patterico's Pontifications]
Earlier: All Asian Female Prosecutors Look Alike — to Chuck Schumer

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