George Will has some terrific questions for the President’s nominee to be Attorney General, Michael Mukasey. I’m glad that Will is drawing more attention to the administration’s startling claim that all of America is a “battlefield.” In a recent article for Legal Times, I urged the next attorney general to disavow that claim. (For more detail, go here, and read pp. 7-15).
Will also cites an important new book by the Boston Globe’s Charlie Savage, Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy. Here is an excerpt from Will’s column:
The Constitution’s Framers, disliking the British sovereign’s “prerogative power” to set aside a law for a claimed public good, stipulated that the president shall “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” But consider “signing statements,” whereby presidents, when signing legislation, attach statements sometimes directing the executive branch not to execute certain portions. This practice is, in effect, something the Constitution does not permit – a line-item veto. Savage, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on this president’s signing statements, writes that such statements were rare until the mid-1980s, when some conservatives urged frequent use of them as a means of maximizing presidential powers. Savage says: “If a president has the power to instruct the government not to enforce laws that he alone has declared to be unconstitutional, then he could free himself from the need to obey laws that restrict his own actions.” Is this a real danger?
Read the whole thing.
Also on the Washington Post editorial page is a piece by Bob Novak on the internal deliberations in the Bush White House regarding their pick for Attorney General. Novak is very critical: “Mukasey is not well qualified to be attorney general by any rational standard.”