Judiciary Chairman Unleashes on Holder for ‘Partisan’ Ignorance of Constitution
With a scathing roll call of Eric Holder's sins, Lamar Smith paves the way for the attorney general's upcoming appearance before his committee.
April 30, 2012 - 12:10 pm
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee launched a scathing attack on the Department of Justice today with a report outlining how Attorney General Eric Holder’s agency is “ignoring the Constitution to impose a partisan agenda.”
“The pattern of pushing partisan ideology rather than neutrally enforcing the law began nearly as soon as the Administration took office and has continued unabated since,” the report from Rep. Lamar Smith states.
The Texas Republican said that under the Obama administration, the Justice Department “has become more partisan than ever.”
Smith has called Holder to testify before the committee on June 7 to answer for that partisanship.
“The Obama administration has ignored the constitutional balance of power between co-equal branches of government and blocked investigations of its actions. When the Administration doesn’t like a law, they refuse to enforce it. And if the Senate’s constitutional authority to approve political appointees gets in their way, the Administration ignores the Constitution,” Smith said.
“All government officials are bound by the limits of the Constitution and the rule of law, including the President and the Attorney General,” the chairman added.
The report delves into several high-profile examples of the DoJ’s quest to “impose the Administration’s partisan agenda on the American people.”
The first of these: Operation Fast and Furious.
“Since the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) Operation Fast and Furious first became public in January, 2011, the Department has responded with a consistent focus on avoiding responsibility rather than addressing institutional flaws,” the report states.
Smith’s chairman’s report calls out Holder for his May 3, 2011, testimony before the committee in which he said that he “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”
Months before the hearing, though, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) had personally handed Holder a copy of his Jan. 27, 2011, letter regarding the matter, and documents later revealed by the DoJ that fall included memos to Holder with summaries of the gun-walking scandal.
Holder denied giving untruthful testimony, but under pressure from lawmakers eventually said he’d meant to say “a few months” before the committee.
The Department of Justice responded to a CBS News Freedom of Information Act request on Fast and Furious last week by sending mostly blank pages to the news network.
Smith’s report also faults the DoJ for “rushing to court to oppose state laws aimed at improving immigration enforcement while ignoring sanctuary cities and other policies which explicitly violate federal immigration law,” knocking its legal action against Arizona’s SB1070.
“Even if the Department’s argument were not entirely frivolous, it is a much weaker case than could be mounted against states like New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois that openly violate their duty to support federal immigration enforcement,” it says. “While Arizona’s law complements and strengthens federal immigration policy, the laws of these states and some of the cities within them explicitly violate the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996—yet DOJ refuses to take any action against them.”