Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Karl Rove subpoenas

The US Congress is working today to subpoena subpoena Karl Rove and other aides in connection with the firing of several Justice department attorneys, perhaps in connection with a probe of corruption in the CIA. Of course, the White House asserts that those aides are exempt from such oversight because of executive privilege.

Fortunately it is unlikely that the US Supreme Court will grant the executive branch such unchecked power. In United States v. Nixon the court found that the invocation of executive privilege was far from absolute. In that decision, writing for the putatively unanimous court, Chief Justice Berger affirmed that President Nixon's withholding of papers was not covered by executive privilege "absent a claim of need to protect military, diplomatic, or sensitive national security secrets." Similarly, President Clinton was denied the unchecked use of executive privilege during his impeachment hearings surrounding the (ahem) Lewinsky affair.

The need for oversight in all areas of government is a fundamental protection against corruption, and that need is historically recognized in our system of government. The White House's claim that details of the firing of those attorneys somehow merits an exception flies in the face of this principle. That claim should not, and likely will not, stand.


Brynn said...

I'm so glad they said, "Mr. President, can take that 'deal'[1] and shove it." It's about time someone puts Rove's feet to the fire about *something* - I'm fairly certain he's number one or two behind my ex-party's downward spiral into Neocon hell. So here's hoping they stick to their guns.

[1] Bush asked that Rove and some lawyer be questioned only in private, not under oath, and no transcripts were to be made public

Someone's Boy Unit said...

Fortunately it is unlikely that the US Supreme Court will grant the executive branch such unchecked power.

If Bush gets the chance to appoint a few more justices, you may not be able to say that anymore. I don't trust the one's he's appointed, or Scalia and Thomas. I think they'd happily sign over godhood to Bush if they could.

The Mayor said...

I wish I shared your optimism about the role SCOTUS will play in all of this, but keep in mind that CJ John Roberts is [a] a Bush II appointee who [b] trained under Rehnquist who himself [c] did believe in a broad interpretation of what Executive privilege allows for.

Given the past politics of SCOTUS before the Roberts and Alito appointments, I'll be curious to see if Buch II doesn't get a favorable ruling.

Pat Greene said...

While in general I share mistrust about the willingness of SCOTUS to constrain the Administration, you never can tell. It was Scalia, after all, who in his dissent in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld [2004] argued unsuccessfully that U.S. citizens caught up in the War on Terror should be tried in criminal court or released.