Gonzales, now more than later

I agree with Rocket Man that Alberto Gonzales seems like a pretty good choice for Attorney General. He’s President Bush’s man, and will loyally implement his policies. Most of the time this will be a good thing, particularly when it comes to the most important issue the Justice Department faces these days — fighting domestic terrorism. On a few issues, conservatives won’t be happy. The most notable one is racial preferences, as Roger Clegg at the NRO Corner points out. However, conservatives weren’t happy with the administration on this issue when John Ashcroft and Ted Olson were at Justice. The president simply doesn’t agree with us on this one.
Conservatives should be less sanguine about Gonzales when it comes to the possibility of his nomination to the Supreme Court. In theory, Gonzales could serve for maybe two years as A.G. and then be nominated to the high court. At the NRO Corner, the speculation is that he’ll make too many enemies as A.G. to be a viable nominee for the Supreme Court. I’m not sure about that, but it does seem clear that Gonzales’ nomination as A.G. decreases the likelihood he will ever be a Supreme Court Justice, given timing issues and the possibility that he will become “damaged goods.”
UPDATE: Professor Bainbridge thinks the Gonzales nomination increases the likelihood that Gonzales will serve on the Supreme Court. He argues that the A.G. confirmation process will “cleanse” Gonzales with respect to the controversies he has been embroiled in as White House counsel. Then, after serving as A.G. for an insufficient period to be “tainted” by new controversies, he will have relatively smooth sailing onto the Supreme Court.
The professor may be right, but I think the administration could get Gonzales on the Supreme Court without making him A.G. because the Democrats recognize that he’s as moderate a nominee as they are likely to get. Making Gonzales A.G. increases the likelihood that his standing will diminish in liberal and media eyes.


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