What part of “support and defend the Constitution” does Holder not understand?
posted at 2:14 pm on April 1, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
I (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
All federal officials take this oath before assuming their duties, including the Attorney General of the United States. Eric Holder took that oath roughly two months ago, but apparently he’s already forgotten it. Despite a ruling from the Office of Legal Counsel that the DC voting rights bill violates the Constitution, Holder has ordered his staff to find ways to get it into law anyway:
Justice Department lawyers concluded in an unpublished opinion earlier this year that the historic D.C. voting rights bill pending in Congress is unconstitutional, according to sources briefed on the issue. But Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who supports the measure, ordered up a second opinion from other lawyers in his department and determined that the legislation would pass muster.
A finding that the voting rights bill runs afoul of the Constitution could complicate an upcoming House vote and make the measure more vulnerable to a legal challenge that probably would reach the Supreme Court if it is enacted. The bill, which would give the District a vote in the House for the first time, appeared to be on the verge of passing last month before stalling when pro-gun legislators tried to attach an amendment weakening city gun laws. Supporters say it could reach the House floor in May.
In deciding that the measure is unconstitutional, lawyers in the department’s Office of Legal Counsel matched a conclusion reached by their Bush administration counterparts nearly two years ago, when a lawyer there testified that a similar bill would not withstand legal attack.
Holder rejected the advice and sought the opinion of the solicitor general’s office, where lawyers told him that they could defend the legislation if it were challenged after its enactment.
Critics complained that George Bush politicized the Department of Justice, but he had nothing on Barack Obama and Eric Holder. The OLC issues opinions considered binding across the executive branch. If Barack Obama’s OLC concludes that the legislation violates the Constitution, the AG has a duty to fight against its implementation. I explained the problem in February, and apparently the OLC agreed with my analysis.
So why is Holder bucking the OLC and trying to subvert the normal checks on DoJ actions? He claims that his interpretation of the bill supercedes that of the OLC. However, what’s really at stake is the appeasement of DC voters and the Democratic Party, which has tried to get the law passed without the necessary and politically impossible task of amending the Constitution to allow for it. Democrats want more voting power in Congress and want to throw a sop to the Congressional Black Caucus, which has long demanded action on DC voting rights. The Obama administration apparently has no qualms about acting unconstitutionally to get it for them.
Holder is violating his oath and deliberately abandoning the Constitution for partisan political gain. I await the outrage from Bush critics with bated breath.