A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Mukasey AG nomination gets hesitant support from Senate Democrats

[JURIST] Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have generally reacted favorably to President Bush's Monday nomination [JURIST report] of former federal judge Michael B. Mukasey [WH factsheet; PBWT profile] as the US Attorney General, showing support for Bush's bi-partisan efforts at nominating an independent mind for the nation's top law enforcement officer and paving the way for a relatively smooth confirmation. Many US senators stopped short of announcing their support of Mukasey, but several top Democrats expressed the need for a quick confirmation and signaled a readiness to compromise with GOP lawmakers in order to clean up the scandal-ridden US Department of Justice [official website]. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) [official website] applauded Bush's bi-partisan efforts [press release], noting that "Judge Mukasey has strong professional credentials and a reputation for independence...and knows how to say no to the President when he oversteps the Constitution." While Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] initially threatened to hold up Mukasey's nomination until the Bush administration hands over key information about its terrorist surveillance program [JURIST news archive], Leahy later said that he looks forward to meeting with Mukasey and gathering information for confirmation hearings, adding that "cooperation from the White House will be essential" [press release]. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) [official website] echoed Leahy's comments, adding that holding up Mukasey's confirmation would be a "mistake" when the "White House has taken a step forward" with a bi-partisan nomination. Mukasey has been regarded as strict on national security matters, but ruled [PDF text] in March 2003 that US citizen Jose Padilla [JURIST news archive] had to be allowed to meet with counsel despite being classified as an "enemy combatant" [JURIST news archive], prompting Senate Judiciary Committee member Russ Feingold (D-WI) [official website] to express interest [press release] in Mukasey's "views on executive power and the need to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans while fighting al Qaeda and its affiliates aggressively."

Leading Republicans have begun urging the Senate to confirm Mukasey quickly. Ranking Senate Judiciary Committee member Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website] welcomed Mukasey's nomination, noting that "President Bush has made a very conscience and deliberate effort to choose someone who would not be controversial." Specter expressed hope that Mukasey's nomination "will not get bogged down" [press release] in requests for information from the White House, including requests about the terrorist surveillance program and the firing of eight US Attorneys [JURIST news archive], which eventually precipitated the resignation of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [JURIST report]. Mukasey emerged as a leading candidate for the nomination after Democrats balked [JURIST report] at the prospect of Theodore Olsen [DOJ profile], saying Olsen was overly partisan and threatening to invoke procedural barriers to his confirmation. AP has more.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.