February 7, 2006

CONSTITUTIONAL SEPARATION ISN'T OPTIONAL:

In Quizzing a Reticent Gonzales, Senators Encounter a Power Shortage (Dana Milbank, February 7, 2006, Washington Post)

In an entire day of testimony about the Bush administration's secret wiretapping program, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales recognized the supremacy of congressional authority in precisely one instance: the power to declare a recess.

"Attorney General Gonzales, would you like a break?" Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) inquired after 90 minutes of back-and-forth.

"If you're offering a break, Mr. Chairman," the attorney general replied.

"Well, I'm not going to offer you one unless you want one," the chairman insisted.

Gonzales would have none of it. "I will defer to you, Mr. Chairman," he said, before finally accepting a brief recess.

Otherwise, Gonzales offered the legislative branch little deference yesterday, and certainly no apology for the administration's decision not to seek congressional approval for its surveillance program. "The short answer is that we didn't think we needed to, quite frankly," he declared in a typical exchange.


Of course, for the Executive to defer to the Legislative Branch or the Courts on such a matter would be an anticonstitutional abdication of its exclusive responsibility.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 7, 2006 11:38 AM
Comments

I think I'm in love!!

Posted by: erp at February 7, 2006 12:49 PM

If Gonzales is ever nominated for the Court, and he acts like this in his confirmation hearing, even Ann Coulter will swoon.

And imagine if he tells Kennedy something like, "Senator, I went to law school - a good one. I graduated high in my class. I know how to read judicial decisions, and I know how to comply with the law". Kennedy might have a stroke right then and there. And just wait until Gonzales tells Leahy "I know how to keep secrets".

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 7, 2006 1:03 PM

Yes, this all seems more like a turf war that anything else. Truthfully haven't been following this very closely, but the MSM take seems to be a bi-partisan pile-on onto the Executive branch. To paraphrase someone's observation about race trumping religion, government branch trumps political party.

Posted by: Rick T. at February 7, 2006 1:11 PM

Exclusive responsibility? The Executive wages war. Fine. But the Legislative declares it and finances it. If they want, in return, to be better informed about the process of waging war, the Constitution is silent on that particular issue.

Posted by: M. Bulger at February 7, 2006 3:10 PM

M:

No, as you just noted it isn't.

Posted by: oj at February 7, 2006 4:17 PM
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