January 15, 2009 10:41AM

Questions for Mr. Holder

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a confirmation hearing for Eric Holder, Obama’s nominee for Attorney General. Here are some questions for Mr. Holder:

1. You admit you made mistakes with respect to how you handled the pardon for Mark Rich. Why do you think he was pardoned? You are a former prosecutor and investigator–do you believe there was a corrupt bargain of some kind?

2. You and Attorney General Janet Reno approved the violent raid by federal agents to take custody of Elian Gonzales. Did you know in advance that agents waited until the judge familiar with the case left the courthouse for the day and then applied for a warrant from the evening magistrate, who was not as familiar with the circumstances of the case? Did you know that federal agents used tear gas against peaceful protestors outside the home of Elian’s relatives?

3. You have testified in favor of federal hate crimes legislation. Where in the Constitution do you find authority for Congress to enact such legislation? What is your view of the Tenth Amendment? What federal criminal laws (enacted or proposed) fall outside of the purview of the limited and enumerated powers of Congress?

4. In 2000, the Department of Justice maintained that the Second Amendment to the Constitution does not really guarantee the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. The government can, in its discretion, take guns away from the citizenry. Is that your view? You did sign on to an amicus brief in the Heller case that defended the draconian gun control regulations of Washington, D.C.

5. If a federal law enforcement agent for the FBI or DEA is involved in a questionable shooting and local prosecutors come to the conclusion that the law was broken and bring murder or manslaughter charges, will your department argue for blanket immunity from prosecution? During the Clinton years, the Justice Department argued that federal agents “are privileged to do what would otherwise be unlawful if done by a private citizen.” Do you think federal agents are immune from murder statutes?

6. In Mahoney v. Babbitt, 105 F.3d 1452 (1997), you signed a brief that took a bizzare view of free speech rights. You argued that people who support Bill Clinton could bring signs along the inaugural parade route, but that people who disliked Bill Clinton could be denied permits to bring signs to express their point of view. Where did you get that from? You say that as attorney general you would follow not only the letter but the spirit of the law, but your record does not support that.