Another Justice official goes but for his own reasons: The Swamp
The Swamp
Posted September 7, 2007 10:17 AM
The Swamp

by James Oliphant

Peter Keisler Thursday became the latest high-ranking Justice Department official to head for the exit.

Keisler ran the department's civil division, which manages the government's litigation docket.

A largely behind-the-scenes player in first the Ronald Reagan and now the George W. Bush administrations, Keisler is known more as a skilled advocate a less an in-your-face ideologue, although he was an early member of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization.

He played a key role in large civil cases such as the government's massive suit against the tobacco industry and in 2005 signed off on a controversial decision to reduce the amount sought from the industry in that case from $130 billion to $10 billion.

But instead of another referendum on the chaos at the Justice Department, Keisler's departure probably means he has given up any hope of securing the D.C. appeals court seat to which President Bush appointed him in 2006. Once Democrats regained control of the Senate, Keisler's nomination went on the fast track to nowhere.

He may have to console himself with a return to his lucrative private practice in Washington. Before joining the Bush administration, Keisler was a successful partner at the Chicago firm Sidley Austin.

In the meantime, Bush hasn't surrendered on the judicial nomination front. Thursday he nominated Duncan Getchell, a Virginia lawyer, and Steve Matthews, a lawyer from South Carolina, to seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Activists on the right have criticized the White House for failing to fill several empty seats on the 4th Circuit, which has long been a conservative stronghold, fearing that a Democratic victory in the presidential race next year could tilt the court in the other direction. Getchell and Matthews join North Carolina's Robert Conrad as 4th Circuit nominees awaiting confirmation by the Senate.

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Secular violence is up in America. Immigration woes trump American idealogy of the past 30 years.

Tiananmen Square in front of the White House that he serves. The Mounties are Coming, The Mounties are Coming.

The Law of the Land is being challenged every second this White House Administration stands grounds on American Soil.

Enforcement, Fear, Apprehension, Rendering, Tracking, Eavesdropping,

Yea, of course he is leaving the GOP Stomp to Excutive Actions against the fabric of American Life.


James Oliphant reports that "Bush hasn't surrendered on the judicial nomination front. Thursday he nominated Duncan Getchell, a Virginia lawyer, and Steve Matthews, a lawyer from South Carolina, to seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit."

Actually, President Bush has chosen to reignite the judicial nomination wars rather than to fill 4th Circuit vacancies. See our Earthjustice press release at:

Bush Rejects Bi-partisan Senate Effort in Order to Reignite Judicial Nomination Wars
4th Circuit nominee was omitted from list jointly provided by Virginia Senators

September 7, 2007


Glenn Sugameli, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500

Washington, DC-- Yesterday, President Bush rejected a bipartisan list of five names that Virginia Senators Jim Webb (D) and John Warner (R) recommended for two 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies from Virginia. Instead, he nominated E. Duncan Getchell, Jr., who was one of many lawyers whom the Senators jointly interviewed and omitted from their list of five prospective nominees.

"There no longer can be any doubt that President Bush wants to pick unnecessary fights on judicial nominations, rather than to fill vacancies and confirm judges," said Glenn Sugameli, Senior Legislative Counsel with Earthjustice. "Unfortunately, President Bush continues to reject advice from Republican and Democratic Senators on mainstream, confirmable nominees, and prefers to appeal to his right-wing base by throwing gasoline on the simmering embers of the judicial nomination wars."

Sen. Warner stated that "I steadfastly remain committed to the recommendations stated in my joint letter with Senator Webb to the president, dated June 12, 2007, and I have so advised in a respectful, consistent manner in my consultations with the White House senior staff." Sen. Webb said in a statement, "Today, despite our good faith, bipartisan effort to accommodate the President, the recommendations that Senator Warner and I made have been ignored. The White House talks about the spirit of bipartisanship, lamenting congressional obstructionism. The White House cannot expect to complain about the confirmation of federal judges when they proceed to act in this manner."

"Every Senator who has called for more bipartisanship on judicial nominations should be asked about President Bush's rejection of a careful, widely-praised bipartisan Senate effort to fill an appeals court vacancy," Sugameli said. "President Bush has refused to nominate anyone to appellate court seats in other circuits despite recommendations from Republican Senators, including Arlen Specter (R-PA) and then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI). He has repeatedly ignored the Senate's constitutional advise and consent role in nominating federal judges, resulting in appeals court vacancies in appeals court seats based in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia that have gone unfilled for years."

Sugameli added that, "A Maryland-based 4th Circuit seat has remained unfilled for almost seven years because Claude Allen, the only nominee President Bush submitted, did not live in the state (he later pled guilty to misdemeanor theft). When President Bush has submitted nominees, they have all too often 'seemed deliberately provocative,' as a Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial described Jim Haynes, a prior nominee for a 4th Circuit Virginia-based seat who withdrew because of bipartisan Senate opposition."

Yesterday, President Bush also nominated Steve A. Matthews for a South Carolina-based 4th Circuit seat. Matthews serves as a Member and the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Landmark Legal Foundation, which nominated Rush Limbaugh for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Recently, President Bush withdrew a prospective nominee for a New Jersey-based Third Circuit seat who had been approved by both home-state senators. He gave the senators no input on his actual nominee, and only informed them after the selection was made.

"There really is a better way," Sugameli said. "When the Bush administration has honored the Senate's constitutional 'advise and consent' role, more than 250 of his judicial nominees have been confirmed."

Bush punishes without charges. Congress charges without punishment. Censure? Senshur?
Who cares?
Over three hundred years ago, American revolutionaries overthrew a dictatorial regime and established a democratic nation, a government “of laws, not men”, and provided Congress the power of impeachment in order to check homegrown tyrants, charging it to act on the people’s behalf by challenging abuse of presidential power. Today, most in Congress have meekly stripped themselves of the power of impeachment without answering the most well-considered arguments for it. Who suffers when Congress kneels before tyrants? The people. The nation.

When the President uses his powers to ignore laws passed by Congress, he may deny us the benefits the laws were meant to provide. When he does this with no accounting of how the people or the nation will benefit by his rejection of the law, but merely claims the right to ignore it as a show of power, that is a clear abuse of power and grounds for impeachment.

There seems no earthly public good in a “signing statement” declaring the president may ignore minimum requirements of experience and education for FEMA directors. And yet, to just such a law, he added a a statement claiming that he may substitute his own unnamed standards in place of the ones in the law. He does not explain what his substitute qualifications are. He does not explain under what circumstances he would apply them instead of the ones in the law. He does not explain how a FEMA director meeting his own personal standards will serve us better in times of disaster than one meeting the legal standards. He merely decrees it.

It would be alarming for any president to thus amend a section of a law clearly intended to enhance our safety. When Hurricane Katrina unleashed her destruction, we discovered too late that the FEMA director, chosen by this president according to his own criteria, was avidly loyal to the president but utterly lacking the experience and skills needed for national emergency management. Who suffered for it? The people. The nation.

That is why the minimum qualifications were introduced in the law – but he decreed his own judgement on standards to be potentially superior to that of Congress and reserved for himself the right to ignore the law. The president is is the only person who can explain his reasoning. He should be called to appear before Congress and account for this assumption of superior judgement as it will affect the safety and lives of the people of the United States. If only impeachment can make him comply, so be it. Perhaps, he can adequately explain how his own criteria will better serve the national interest and benefit the people.

But if his sole reason for the “signing statement” was to protect and defend his own powers by using them randomly, exercising powers in frivolous displays of presidential braggadocio merely to show them off without regard to the public good, it is a grave abuse of his office. There is no law or oath stating the president must place the interests of the presidency above the interests of the people of the United States. That is an abuse of power of the very sort the framers of the Constitution foresaw. That is an impeachable offense.

Legal allies of the president say Congressional acquiescence is a mute but official endorsement of his use of power. Indeed, who among those in Congress who reject impeachment will answer the arguments for impeachment? Who among them will explain how their toothless inactions will discourage future abuse of power more strongly than calling presidents to account for questionable assertion of powers, as the Framers intended? Not a one. Who will suffer for their abnegation of duty? The people. The nation.

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