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February 9, 2006

Might the NSA kerfuffle and the AG's Senate showing impact any brewing Booker fix?

Jack Balkin provides this comical account of AG Alberto Gonzales' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning the Bush Administration's eavesdropping programs.  But this editorial about the sparring between Gonzales and Republicans raises the serious question of whether the AG in the NSA kerfuffle may be greatly damaging his credibility — and thus impacting his ability to argue effectively for a legislative "Booker fix".

As the editorial notes, Gonzales' testimony created a "skeptical bloc of committee Republicans — the chairman, Arlen Specter, Pa.; Lindsey Graham, S.C.; Mike DeWine, Ohio; and Sam Brownback, Kan."  These are folks whom, I believe, would be critical voices and votes in any future legislative debate over new sentencing legislation that the Justice Department might seek.  Especially important would seem to be Committee Chair (and former prosecutor) Arlen Specter, who had this reaction to what Gonzales was saying:

Specter said the administration's reading of the law "just defies logic and plain English." He was even sterner later when he said of Gonzales to a Washington Post reporter, "He's smoking Dutch cleanser."

Not only could Specter's reaction to the AG's work impact the Justice Department's advocacy for sentencing legislation, it also makes a great line for defense lawyers arguing with prosecutors over interpretations of Booker and 3553(a).  Any time a prosecutor states a guideline sentence is presumptively reasonable, perhaps the retort should be that too much Dutch cleanser is being smoked inside DOJ.

February 9, 2006 at 10:06 PM | Permalink

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