How I Support Gonzales
I must admit that I had misgivings originally as to whether to support Alberto Gonzales nomination. There were two items in his past which gave me pause: his clemency memos to then-Governor Bush, in his role as General Counsel, and the advice he provided the President in regards to the treatment of US prisoners, in his role as White House Counsel.
In the late 1990's, Gonzales was General Counsel to the Governor of Texas. One of the responsibilities of the office that Gonzales occupied was to advise the Governor as to whether he should recommend a reprieve for those people who had been given the death sentence. There have been concerns raised about the quality and usefulness of the memos that Gonzales prepared. Simply put, the memos tended to not provide the Governor the full story of a case and were "almost always" delivered on the day of the scheduled execution.
For the last four years, Gonzales has served Bush as White House Counsel. During his tenure in this office, there were several notorious torture memos produced under Gonzales’ stewardship and with his approval. Amongst other things, these memos declared that in the War on Terror, the Geneva Conventions were “quaint” and “obsolete.”
One might wonder how I can approve such an apparently anti-human rights candidate for Attorney General. Reading further into Gonzales’ resume is what convinced me.
Before being tapped by Bush to be his General Counsel, Gonzales served as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court. A defining moment of his tenure was the instance of an abortion case involving an underage girl.
By Texas law a minor cannot receive an abortion without either parental consent or a special waiver for such consent issued by a judge. To be granted such a waiver, a minor girl must prove that she is suitably educated about her decision. A girl requested a waiver for an abortion from a judge at trial, he denied it. The girl appealed to the Texas Supreme Court and the majority issued a ruling that under Texas law she was entitled to judicial waiver. Gonzales not only voted with the unpopular majority but issued a concurring opinion accusing the minority of judicial activism. This was a very impressive example of the kind of judicial mentality that I like to see in judges.
The quality of Gonzales work seems to be inversely proportional to his proximity to Bush. When Gonzales is independent of Bush, as he was during his time on the Texas Supreme Court, he can make his greatest contributions to public policy. When he is serving purely at the pleasure and discretion of the President, he tends to let his loyalty get in the way of what he must know is right.
In supporting Gonzales’ confirmation, I am hoping that as Attorney General he will use his new distance to protect the interests of all Americans and not exclusively those of his boss.