During Attorney General Eric Holder’s confirmation hearings, Democratic senators questioned him about the claimed “politicalization” of the Justice Department in the Bush administration. I could only smile with amusement when Holder promised that he would “restore” the supposed nonpartisanship of the Justice Department. Of course, what he really meant was restoring the primacy of radical, liberal politics in much of the key decision-making at the Department of Justice. I have little doubt that he will succeed in this endeavor, given the backgrounds of President Obama’s other nominees for leadership posts at Justice. Indeed, virtually every nominee to date is far to the left of the legal mainstream.
Expecting nonpartisanship from Eric Holder is a bit much. Holder helped Bill Clinton sell a pardon to fugitive Mark Rich for the large contributions made by Rich’s wife to the Clinton library, the president’s legal defense fund, Hillary Clinton, and other Democratic campaigns. Rich had fled the U.S. (giving up his citizenship) one step ahead of an indictment in what prosecutors described as “the biggest tax-fraud case in the history of the United States.” As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy says, the Rich pardon “was one of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of the Justice Department.”
Holder also pushed the pardons of 16 unrepentant and violent Puerto Rican terrorists who had not even sought clemency. The FALN had carried out 130 bombings and murdered six people. As Dick Morris observed, these pardons were granted in an apparent attempt to help Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign in New York, which has a large number of Puerto Rican voters.
All of these pardons were made against the recommendations of the prosecutors involved in the cases, against the recommendations of Justice’s pardon attorney, and in violation of basic Justice Department guidelines. I guess there is no “politicalization” involved when you are benefiting Democratic officeholders and candidates.
Who has Obama nominated to fill the number two position that Eric Holder held in the prior administration? His nominee for deputy attorney general is David Ogden, another lawyer from the Clinton Justice Department. Ogden has represented clients like Penthouse and PHE (the nation’s largest distributor of hardcore pornography) in numerous obscenity cases, opposing any attempts to limit the production and distribution of pornography. Ogden opposed pornography filters in public libraries and fought requiring pornographers to verify that their models were over 18. He seems to believe that not only should children have access to pornography in public libraries, but they should be able to make it, too. Even more disturbing, he has argued repeatedly that there should be virtually no limits on abortion and has been a leading opponent of parental notification in abortion cases. In fact, he argued in a brief that abortion rarely causes any psychological or emotional problems — abortion provides women with “feelings of relief and happiness.”
For financial reasons, some lawyers have to take in any client who walks in the door, even if they don’t necessarily like the client or agree with his positions. But senior partners like Ogden who work at large firms like Wilmer Cutler can choose their clientele, and he has made a career of representing pornographers and abortionists.
Thomas Perrelli, meanwhile, is the nominee for associate attorney general, the number three position at Justice. Another Clinton Justice Department lawyer, Perrelli is infamous for his vigorous fight on behalf of the right of Terry Schiavo’s husband to “legally” kill his wife against the wishes of her parents. Perrelli was also a key Democratic lawyer in redistricting litigation after the 2000 census, which will put him into a position to interfere with Republican redistricting plans after the 2010 census under the guise of the Voting Rights Act. No doubt many of the hard-core liberal career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division’s voting section are salivating at this nomination.
Elena Kagan has been given the nod for solicitor general, a post in which she will represent the United States before the Supreme Court. While she was the dean of Harvard Law School, she prevented the military from recruiting on campus and, in fact, was a national leader among law school deans fighting the Solomon amendment. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected her frivolous argument that universities have a constitutional right to receive federal funding while barring military recruiters from campus. Losing to a unanimous vote of the Supreme Court, whose justices have a wide range of legal views, is a sign of either bad legal judgment or political ideology so extreme that it blinds one’s professionalism. No one claims Kagan is not a very smart lawyer, so we are left with the obvious fact that the Solomon case shows that she is unable to separate her politics from a proper analysis of the law, something that is vital to being the solicitor general.
Then there is Dawn Johnsen, who has been nominated to head the Office of Legal Counsel, which provides the president with opinions on the legality and constitutionality of his actions, particularly his efforts to keep our country secure from terrorism. Johnsen, who is the former legal director for NARAL, once said that there is “no ‘father’ and no ‘child’ — just a fetus,” and has compared pregnancy to slavery under the 13th Amendment. Her rantings in the left-wing blogosphere about the Bush administration’s war on terror are so polemic and so extreme, that she does not appear to have the capability to carry out her duties with the dispassionate professionalism that is the ultimate requirement for the head of the OLC. As the Wall Street Journal noted , she sees the OLC not as lawyers working on behalf of the president, “but as a policy outfit free to quash presidential actions with which it happens to disagree.” This is the type of behavior by a political zealot that in war time will lead directly to the deaths of American military personnel and civilians.
One wonders if the consequences of Johnsen’s views would even be of concern to another nominee, Anthony West, who is slated to head Justice’s Civil Division. After all, West is the attorney who proudly represented American terrorist John Walker Lindh, who not only pleaded guilty, but failed to warn murdered CIA agent Mike Spann of the planned uprising by his fellow Taliban brethren in the Qala-e-Jangi prison in Afghanistan in 2001, which lead directly to Spann’s death.
In sum, President Obama has nominated individuals who are extremists on issues such as abortion, pornography, and euthanasia. He has nominated individuals who have demonstrated a palpable hatred for our military, whose members are fighting and dying to protect our freedom. He has nominated political partisans who helped provide pardons in exchange for political contributions and to secure votes, or who have chosen to represent terrorists trying to kill Americans. He has nominated individuals who want to disarm our military and intelligence services, and bring back the infamous days of the 1990s, when the Clinton Justice Department did everything it could to limit the effectiveness of our efforts against al-Qaeda.
There is no question that radical left-wing politics is going to take center stage in the policies of the Department of Justice over the next four years, to the detriment of all Americans and the well-being of our nation. As Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society has said, “We are on the brink of having the most Culture of Death, anti-family Justice Department ever.”