X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
For years, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales has been on the short list of those President George W. Bush might pick to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Instead, the president on Wednesday afternoon tapped Gonzales, who has played a leading role in the administration’s war on terror, to take over for Attorney General John Ashcroft. The nomination ended a brief period of speculation that began after Ashcroft’s departure was announced late on Tuesday. Gonzales, a former Texas Supreme Court justice, now must be confirmed by the Senate. In a letter to the president, Ashcroft said he believed the Justice Department would benefit from “new leadership and fresh inspiration.” Ashcroft, who oversaw the department’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and pushed for speedy passage of the USA Patriot Act, said he was leaving the nation “stronger and safer” than when he took the post. Critics considered him insensitive to civil liberties concerns and weak on civil rights and environmental enforcement. Ashcroft will stay on at the department until Gonzales is confirmed. While Gonzales, 49, has been a highly influential member of Bush’s inner circle and a key architect of the administration’s legal response to Sept. 11, he has remained nearly invisible to the outside world. His views on such hot-button issues as abortion and affirmative action are largely unknown. The American Civil Liberties Union called for “a full and thorough Senate confirmation process” that would examine Gonzales’ position on civil liberties and human rights issues. During the confirmation process, Gonzales will undoubtedly face tough questions about his role in internal administration discussions about the detention and interrogation of Taliban fighters and alleged al-Qaida members in U.S. custody. In January 2002, Gonzales authored a memo calling some provisions of Geneva Conventions “quaint” and recommending that the conventions not be applied to Taliban and al-Qaida detainees. He also sought and accepted a legal opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that mapped out defenses to legal prohibitions on torture. In response to Gonzales’ nomination, People for the American Way issued a statement tying Gonzales’ policy advice to the prison abuse at Abu Ghraib. Ralph Neas, president of the liberal interest group, also criticized Gonzales’ support for the Patriot Act and his role in the selection of controversial judicial nominees. “America needs an attorney general who is committed to protecting both national security and the nation’s Constitution,” Neas stated in the release. But Gonzales, who would be the first Hispanic attorney general if confirmed, has his supporters. “He seems like a great choice to me,” said Todd Gaziano, a lawyer with the conservative Heritage Foundation. “He’s done an admirable job as White House counsel, advising the president on the many very difficult issues that the White House has faced.” Gonzales has had close ties to Bush since the president’s years as governor of Texas. A graduate of Harvard University Law School and a former Vinson & Elkins partner, Gonzales came aboard as Bush’s gubernatorial legal counsel in 1995. In 1997, Bush named Gonzales Texas secretary of state and, in 1998, placed him on the Texas Supreme Court. Elliot Mincberg, general counsel of People for the American Way, describes Gonzales’ short record as a judge as “conservative” but not “extreme right wing.” Indeed, when discussed as a potential Supreme Court nominee, Gonzales’ most potent opposition came from the far right wing of the Republican Party, which considered Gonzales too liberal. But conservative Christian groups, despite their newfound clout as perhaps the decisive vote in the 2004 election, are unlikely to block Gonzales’ nomination to head the Justice Department. “The president has shown himself to be such a man of character and integrity, I think evangelical Christians really trust him,” said Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition. “Whoever he chooses for Cabinet members, we’ll support 100 percent.”

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.