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Gonzalez is undoubtalby one of Bush's guys, to the point where he's practically family. But more than that, I think, Bush wants Gonzalez on the Court not because of his views on abortion, but because he wants to secure his legacy in two areas - the Establishment Clause, and the war powers of the executive. Bush knows that Gonzalez will uphold any future challenges to the torture policy and the faith-based initiative. And I think that trumps the abortion issue for Bush.

richard lo cicero

It says a lot about where we are that many Dems, including so-called "progressives" are cheering on Bush to appoint to the Supreme Court a crony who considers the Geneva Convention "Quaint!" Well it was a nice republic while it lasted.

Kagro X

Fortas, like Gonzalez, was highly unusual in the degree to which his career was intertwined with the president's.

Hey, that's a good point. It is highly unusual. Some might even say that the circumstances were "extraordinary."


It may be true that Gonzalez's defining characteristic is his closeness to Bush. I suppose we can assume that he will be predictably loyal. But Bush will be gone in a couple years. Gonzalez will sit for a couple decades. What next?

Joe Smith

The torture memos are bad in themselves, but they are also evidence that when Gonzalez had an opportunity to exercise some independence, by saying that there are values more important than giving the executive branch a shaky legal rationale to do what it wants to do, he did not exercise it.

Remember, at the time, Gonzalez was his legal counsel, not attorney general. He was simply doing his job, under the ethics of his profession. If you cast aspersion on Gonzalez for the terror memos (which is all partisan politics) you are casting aspersion on the entire legal profession. Also, Gonzalez is pretty much the best case scenario and I think if Dems are somehow able to successfully defeat him if he is nominated, you will almost certainly get a much more conservative appointed. Its not like Bush is going to nominate John Paul Stevens, Jr. or William O. Douglas, Jr. to the Court under any circumstance, so forget about, take what you can get.

Also, Mark, please post here more, I love TPMCafe and understand your obligation, but I think your analysis here is usually better.


If you cast aspersion on Gonzalez for the terror memos (which is all partisan politics) you are casting aspersion on the entire legal profession.

Um, speaking as a lawyer, the technical term for that assertion is "utter crap". I (and pretty much every other lawyer I know) often counsel clients that while there may technically be legal extremes to which they could push their actions, it would be wrong to do so.

And Gonzalez (and more importantly, the rest of the people involved in writing and endorsing the torture memos, particularly the DoD and OLC attorneys) were being paid by our tax dollars to represent us, not to advance a particular political agenda involving the imperial presidency and the pro-torture crowd. While Gonzalez may have been the attorney to the Office of the President, that's a far cry from being George Bush's private attorney. He represents the Office of the President, which has at least some fealty to common decency and the rule of law.

BTW, I would argue the same thing with respect to even private counsel, but the case is much stronger for someone counseling a public officer on the public's dime.

David Weigel

What buckets said. Once he's a Supreme, Gonzalez isn't beholden to anyone anymore. Maybe he could finally reveal what he really thinks about things, and maybe he'd surprise his mentor.


What a well-written post... I agree with the last comment, however, it may be that whoever Bush nominates could very well surprise. I mean, who wouldn't act differently about everything if they held a job they couldn't get fired from.

I will look up Fortas and put something up on http://bztv.typepad.com/instanthistory/


I can't help pointing out that the optimistic case for Gonzalez is the belief or hope that he is a whore. He has always done whatever his John wanted, but, once on the Supreme Court, with no John to please, who knows? That's what it has come to.


With any luck we won't have to be writing about him for the next month, but if we do:

His name is Alberto Gonzales with an S. The damned Speedy cartoon has infected all our brains, yes, but try to resist.


Mark, it wouldn't hurt for you to correct your post. Commenters follow along because they assume you've got it right.


There are so many qualified possible nominees that the only reason the president forces a Bolton through the process of U.N. ambassador or Gonzales for SCOTUS is because it is his decision and Democrats need to accept his decision, his mandate and stop playing partisan politics. IMHO, that is arrogance. It isn't that Bolton or Gonzales are the most qualified bar none of every American available, it is because I made this decision and that is that.


"at the time, Gonzalez was his legal counsel, not attorney general. He was simply doing his job, under the ethics of his profession. If you cast aspersion on Gonzalez for the terror memos (which is all partisan politics) you are casting aspersion on the entire legal profession."

Wrong on two counnts.

First the ethical obligation of an attorney to his client requires that the attorney give the client objective advice, not simply tell the client what the client wants to hear. Objectively, the advice given by Gonzales was glaringly wrong--for example, Gonzales took a positon on the scope of the president's commander-in-chief powers that was flatly contrary to the leading Supreme Court decision on the issue (rejecting Truman's attempted takeover of the steel industry to stop a strike)--and Gonzales never even mentioned that decision.

Second, the White House counsel is not the president's attorney--that was settled back in the Clinton adminstration, when Clinton's attempt to use the attorney-client privilege to prevent testimony by the White House counsel was rejected.


With rumors swirling that President Bush has selected Edith Brown Clement of the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to be replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, Democrats can get to down the business of planning their response.

Their response should be to vote to confirm Judge Clement.

Why? In a nutshell, Democrats should grudgingly accept Clement because she simply does not cross the threshhold of unsuitability...

For more, see:

"Supreme Limitations for Democrats"

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