BREAKING NEWS ~ Gonzales nomination narrowly passes Judiciary Committee

BREAKING NEWS ~ Gonzales nomination narrowly passes Judiciary Committee

[JURIST] The Senate Judiciary Committee has just voted 10-8 to approve President Bush's nomination of Alberto Gonzales as US Attorney General. The nomination now goes to the full Senate. AP has a background story on this morning's committee meeting here.

11:25 AM ET – In a statement this morning, ranking Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy explained his "no" vote:

My reasons for voting against this nomination arise from the need for accountability and derive from the nominee’s involvement in the formulation of a number of policies that have tarnished our country’s moral leadership in the world and put our soldiers and citizens at greater risk. Anyone who has served in the military, or who has a son or daughter who served, knows that these actions violate everything that our soldiers are taught and everything they stand for. When President Bush announced this nomination he said that he chose Judge Gonzales because of his “sound judgment” and role in shaping the Administration’s policies in the war on terrorism. Based on the glimpses of secret policy formulations and legal rationales that have come to light, I believe his judgments not to have been sound. Several of this Administration’s legal policies have been exceedingly harmful to our national interests.

As Attorney General, the nominee’s judgment about our laws would be of enormous consequence. Judge Gonzales has championed policies that are in fundamental conflict with decades of our laws, sound military practice, international law and human rights. He remained silent for almost two years about a deeply flawed legalistic interpretation of our nation’s torture statute. He also accepted a patently erroneous interpretation of the torture convention and apparently believes that the President, when acting as Commander in Chief, is above the law….

Nothing is more fundamental about our constitutional democracy than our basic notion that no one is above the law. Yet at his June 2004 press conference and again in his testimony before the Judiciary Committee he indicated that he views the President to have the power to override our law and, apparently, to immunize others to perform what would otherwise be unlawful acts. This is about as extreme a view of Executive power as I have ever heard. I believe it is not only dead wrong as a constitutional matter but extremely dangerous. The rule of law applies to the President, even this President….

Now more than ever, the country needs a person to be Attorney General who will serve all Americans. There is much that has gone wrong that this Administration has stubbornly refused to admit or correct. For this democratic republic to work, we need greater openness and accountability. It is with those critical considerations in mind that I must vote against this confirmation.

Read Senator Leahy's full statement.