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In my post on Monica Goodling’s testimony, I neglected to discuss one absolutely critical element: her statement that she had been deeply engaged in the process of appointing immigration judges. These appointments were not subject to the normal civil service process, Monica claims she was told by Kyle Sampson, Gonzales’s former chief of staff, who indicated that he had received advice to this effect from the Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Today, the Justice Department has been quick to deny this, stating that there is no disagreement within the Department and that the rules are clear: immigration judges are subject to the civil service rules.
Why does this matter? The appointments record of Alberto Gonzales has already raised eyebrows. He has appointed some 50 of the total 226 immigration judges. To be blunt, he has appointed a wave of partisan figures whose only apparent qualification has been service in the electoral front trenches for the GOP. The Legal Times had already commented on his curiously political appointment practices:
Among the 19 immigration judges hired since 2004: Francis Cramer, the former campaign treasurer for New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg; James Nugent, the former vice chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party; and Chris Brisack, a former Republican Party county chairman from Texas who had served on the state library commission under then-Gov. George W. Bush.”
Dana Milbank has a typically sardonic review of the issue in this morning’s Washington Post. But don’t miss the post at Balkinization which explores the roots of the issue from a legal perspective. As Georgetown Law Professor Marty Lederman puts it:
Something is happening here, but we don’t know what it is. Goodling obviously knew that her conduct in this regard was dubious, and testified about it even though no one had raised any question about it previously, so as to ensure that her immunity would extend to this episode, as well.
This is, I believe, what has happened: the DOJ inspector general’s probe will no longer be able to avoid Alberto Gonzales himself, and his former chief of staff. Gonzales will not be able to evade responsibility for his partisan appointments and his radical politicization of the Justice Department with his curiously selective memory.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Average number of Americans who are injured by chain saws each year:
A farmer in Kenya bit a python who tried to eat him.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”