Eric Holder — President-elect Obama’s choice for attorney general — displays a liberal ideology which often conflicts with the Constitution, the war on terror, and common sense. Tomorrow, Holder will face the first of what may be several sessions of his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. Before Holder’s nomination is voted on by the committee, he should answer searching inquiries that may reveal his unfitness for that post.
Going through Holder’s record is a huge task, but some of his speeches, legal writings and other actions — as investigated by a House committee almost seven years ago — quickly reveal some of the most important questions. Holder should be required to answer the following questions in the very first hearing.
1. The Second Amendment: In the landmark DC v. Heller case, Holder was one of the people — the clients, not the lawyers — on whose behalf an amicus curiae brief was filed in support of the D.C. gun ban. The brief said, in part:
“Amici disagree with the current position of the United States Department of Justice that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for purposes unrelated to a State’s operation of a well-regulated militia.”
Question for Holder: The Supreme Court amicus brief shows you have a strong personal disagreement with the decision upholding the individual’s right to keep and bear arms. As Attorney General, will you work to overturn the DC v. Heller decision and to limit it in the lower courts and Congress?
2. Constitutional Rights for Terrorist Detainees: In a June 13, 2008, speech to the American Constitution Society, Holder spoke of the Supreme Court’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush which for the first time granted habeas corpus rights to terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Justice Scalia, in his dissent, said the decision “…will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.”)
In his speech, Holder said of the Boumediene decision, “The very recent Supreme Court decision, by only a 5 to 4 vote, concerning habeas corpus and Guantanamo is an important first step but we must go much farther.”
Question for Holder: Boumediene was a radical departure even from earlier Supreme Court decisions on the subject and from the law of war going back to the founding of the United States. Tell us specifically how you would like the law to go farther, in what regards, and — again, specifically — what more Constitutional rights should be extended to terrorist detainees?
3. Clinton’s Last-Minute Pardon of Fugitive Financier Marc Rich: According to a May 2002 report by the House Committee on Government Reform, “Eric Holder’s support of the Rich pardon played a critical role in the success of the pardon effort. Holder informed the White House that he was ‘neutral, leaning towards favorable’ on the Rich pardon, even though he knew that Rich was a fugitive from justice and that Justice Department prosecutors viewed Rich with such contempt that they would no longer meet with his lawyers. Holder has failed to offer any credible justification for his support of the Rich pardon, leading the Committee to believe that Holder had other motivations for his decision, which he has failed to share with the Committee.”
As Deputy Attorney General, Holder was the boss of the Justice Department pardon attorney.
The Rich pardon was the result of direct lobbying of the White House by Rich lawyer Jack Quinn, who Rich apparently hired on Holder’s recommendation. The House Committee report also says that Holder was seeking Quinn’s support to be appointed Attorney General in an Al Gore administration. Several critical questions come from this:
Questions for Holder:
a. Give us the time, date and every detail you can remember of any conversations you have ever had with Jack Quinn regarding whether or how he would help you achieve the post of U.S. Attorney General. (If he needs to be reminded, there’s a bundle of e-mails and references to testimony in the House report.)
b. According to the House committee report, the following people either asserted their rights under the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination or refused to cooperate with the Committee’s investigation: Marc Rich, Denise Rich, Terry McAuliffe, Beth Dozoretz, Pincus Green and Avner Azulay. Jack Quinn is also listed as uncooperative. Give us the time, date, and every detail you can remember of any conversations regarding the Rich pardon you had with each of these people.
c. Why did you recommend to a friend of Marc Rich that he hire Jack Quinn?
4. Other Problem Pardons and Commutations: FALN and Former Weather Underground Members: There is a very disturbing pattern emerging from Holder’s involvement in pardons. One of the charges against Marc Rich was trading with Iran during the time it was holding U.S. hostages in Tehran. He also was instrumental in obtaining commutation of sentences for unrepentant FALN terrorists (Puerto Ricans who had bombed and pardons for members of the Weather Underground).
According to a January 9, 2009, LA Times report, “16 members of the FALN (the Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of National Liberation) and Los Macheteros had been convicted in Chicago and Hartford variously of bank robbery, possession of explosives and participating in a seditious conspiracy. Overall, the two groups had been linked by the FBI to more than 130 bombings, several armed robberies, six slayings and hundreds of injuries.” The same LA Times report says Holder’s chief of staff directed the pardon attorney to revise his recommendation from negative to neutral on the FALN commutation.
Questions for Holder:
a. Why were the FALN terrorists deserving of commutation of sentences?
b. There is a very troubling pattern emerging here. You consistently argue for leniency and additional Constitutional rights for terrorists. Why is the well-being of convicted FALN terrorists apparently more important in your judgment than the right of the survivors of their victims to see them punished fully?
5. The Fairness Doctrine: In a June 2004 speech — again to an American Constitution Society group — Holder spoke about the difficulties of convincing people to support the liberal agenda. He said:
“In the short term, this will not be an easy task. With the mainstream media cowered (sic) by conservative critics, and the conservative media disseminating the news in anything but a fair and balanced manner, and you know what I mean there, the means to reach the greatest number of people is not easily accessible.”
Question for Holder: The so-called “Fairness Doctrine” is a relic of the 1940s. It allowed federal bureaucrats to regulate the content of radio broadcasts on an ideological basis to ensure “balance.” President Reagan did away with it in 1987. Do you think a law or regulation that re-imposed the “Fairness Doctrine” would be Constitutional today?
And that’s only for the first day. Stay tuned.
Cartoon by Brett Noel.