Tuesday we received confirmation that the Senate has chosen to repeal the law allowing indefinite duration temporary (i.e. permanent) appointments of U.S. prosecutors without Senate confirmation. Next will be moving the legislation through the House of Representatives. This was part of the response to the firing and replacement of 8 U.S. prosecutors last year. In case you are wondering, the 2 votes opposed to reclaiming legislative review of appointments were from Republican Sens. Kit Bond (Mo.) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.). If the repeal passes the House, the previous 120 duration will be restored.
The Senate voted 94-2 to repeal a year-old law that Democrats said gave Attorney General Alberto Gonzales too much power to name temporary U.S. prosecutors without senators’ consent.
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The firings triggered investigations by two congressional committees into whether President George W. Bush’s staff injected politics into law enforcement. They also prompted calls for Gonzales’s ouster by several top Democrats and at least three Republicans.
At the time of the incident, most Americans took the typical “Meh…” response we are used to seeing. Administration officials gave what now seems to be a lie and said the firings were due to poor job performance. The preceeding link is just one example – some of the other fired prosecutors can also show the job performance firing statements to be almost certainly false. Evidence from released emails from prior to the firings shows that the firings were more politically motivated than performance related.
Of course, since these positions are Presidential appointments, and the nature of the job is that firings without cause or reason can come at any time, the firings themselves aren’t a real problem in my eyes. The real problem to me is that the executive branch even had the power to put effectively permanent replacements in without Congressional review. The President continues to use his trademark “The terrorists R gonna getcha – You have to give me excessive powers” charade to convince enough Congressional beings to fold and grant these kinds of power by passing laws codifying them. President Bush’s continued reliance on an exceptionally small and improbable threat to grow executive power is shameful. Even worse, however, is the legislative branch’s ongoing lack of backbone that lead to more and more power being granted unnecessarily and more and more American rights being quashed. I suppose that’s one of the big dangers of having concurrent control of the executive and legislative branches of the government. That’s something we will always have to worry about, no matter which party is in power.
This repeal by the current Congress is a small step towards restoring balance between the branches of our government and curbing excessive executive power. I don’t care who is in the White House – these appointments should never be allowed without legislative branch review. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a reduction in executive powers and a restoration of balance between the 3 branches of the federal government.
[tags]Senate votes to repeal Presidents unreviewed prosecutor appointments powers[/tags]