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Judge Mukasey Nominated As Next AG

dojdoors.jpgIt’s finally official: President Bush nominated the Judge Michael Mukasey today as AG. Looseheadprop did a fantastic post for us a couple of weeks ago on what she knew about him from the SDNY — and the fact that he would represent a bit of a push from Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Glenn digs into Judge Mukasey’s rulings on past cases, including the first World Trade Center bombing (a case, btw, in which a lawyer named Patrick Fitzgerald served as one of the prosecutors) and the Padilla case. The AP (via Guardian UK) has more background on his terrorism cases. And Anonymous Liberal also has some comments on judicial temperament questions for the nominee.

Andrew Cohen, of the WaPo’s Bench Conference blog, says:

Mukasey may be conservative, but he clearly is not a craven ideologue like former Attorney General John Ashcroft, and he is certainly not the presidential lapdog that Alberto Gonzales always was. Mukasey thus is a perfect “caretaker” official who can begin (over his first and last 16 months in office) to restore moral and integrity to the Justice Department, ravaged by the skullduggery of his predecessor. Federal prosecutors know him and have reason to trust his judgment. As one New York lawyer told me yesterday, Mukasey is a “judge’s judge.” Former and current government attorneys, believing Mukasey to be tough, demanding and incisive, were said to be “elated” at the choice.

Here’s hoping he brings that judicial temperament and objectivity to his new position — here’s hoping, in other words, that he makes the Justice Department once again a haven for career professionals and dedicated nonpartisan attorneys willing and able to exercise judgments independent from the political pressures brought to bear by the White House. Judge Mukasey has a daunting job ahead of him.

There is a lot of behind-the-scenes discussion about Mukasey and how unlikely he is to be able to make the wholesale changes in the DOJ that are needed to sweep out all the DOJ politicized dreck — mostly because he’ll be hamstrung by the political appointees put in at Rove’s and others’ behest, and by George Bush and Dick Cheney. We shall see if and when Mukasey is confirmed. But first, there must be a full and thorough confirmation process and this from Sen. Russ Feingold hits all the right notes with me:

The next Attorney General will take over a Justice Department plagued by scandal and low morale. As Attorney General and White House Counsel, Alberto Gonzales disregarded statutes, treaties and the Constitution to help this administration consolidate more and more power in the executive branch, and he misled Congress and the American people repeatedly. As a result, Congress and the public now lack confidence in the administration’s commitment to impartial justice….

To that end, Judge Mukasey must demonstrate that his first loyalty will be to the rule of law, not to the President. In particular I will be interested in his views on executive power and the need to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans while fighting al Qaeda and its affiliates aggressively. I will also expect Judge Mukasey to commit to reversing the course set by Alberto Gonzales by fully cooperating with ongoing congressional oversight of this administration’s misconduct, and by always telling Congress and the public the truth, starting with his confirmation hearings. Congress, the Department’s many committed employees, and the American people deserve nothing less from their Attorney General.

Amen. Much more as we get it, as we dig into prior opinions and other information on the Judge. In the meantime, especially for the SDNY legal beagles in the audience — if you have some experience with Judge Mukasey, I would love to hear about it.

Interestingly, President Bush also announced that Peter Keisler, former Bork clerk, co-founder of the Federalist Society and DC Appeals Court bench nominee, will stay on as acting AG rather than Paul Clement, who had been rumored to be the choice.  Clement is back in the Solicitor General spot — and Keisler, whose nomination is still pending according to my search on it, will take his very conservative activist credentials to the helm of the DOJ until a new AG is confirmed.  If this is some sort of pressure tactic for a speedy confirmation, it’s a weird one, I have to say, considering the recent repudiation of Keisler and the Bush Administration by a big chunk of Keisler’s staff in the civil appellate division. 

Would LOVE to know the back story on this.  May just be a huge case load on Clement’s appeals docket plate for the upcoming court term, but what it screams is a sop to wingnuttia for the loss of the Olson nomination. 

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com