Holder claims 'vast amount of discretion' in enforcing laws

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, Eric Holder offered an alarming new doctrine for the Republic: laws are only suggestions, and the real authority to enforce or not enforce them lies in the hands of the president and his cabinet officers.

The Hill reports:

Leading the questioning was House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who asked Holder whether he believed there were any limits to the administration’s prosecutorial discretion.

“There is a vast amount of discretion that a president has — and more specifically that an attorney general has,” Holder responded. “But that discretion has to be used in an appropriate way so that your acting consistent with the aims of the statute but at the same time making sure that you are acting in a way that is consistent with our values, consistent with the Constitution and protecting the American people."

So, apparently if a president or his AG thinks that a law on the books is not “consistent with our [his and the president’s?] values, it is optional

For what it is worth, here is the oath that Holder took:

“I 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.” (Emphasis added)

Banana republic thinking is upon us.

Update. Lauri Regan adds:

“faithfully discharge the duties of the office”

Well what are the duties of office?  From:  http://www.justice.gov/jmd/mps/manual/ag.htm

The position of Attorney General was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789. In June 1870 Congress enacted a law entitled “An Act to Establish the Department of Justice.” This Act established the Attorney General as head of the Department of Justice and gave the Attorney General direction and control of U.S. Attorneys and all other counsel employed on behalf of the United States. The Act also vested in the Attorney General supervisory power over the accounts of U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals.

The mission of the Office of the Attorney General is to supervise and direct the administration and operation of the Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Bureau of Prisons, Office of Justice Programs, and the U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals Service, which are all within the Department of Justice.

The principal duties of the Attorney General are to:

  • Represent the United States in legal matters.
  • Supervise and direct the administration and operation of the offices, boards, divisions, and bureaus that comprise the Department.
  • Furnish advice and opinions, formal and informal, on legal matters to the President and the Cabinet and to the heads of the executive departments and agencies of the government, as provided by law.
  • Make recommendations to the President concerning appointments to federal judicial positions and to positions within the Department, including U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals.
  • Represent or supervise the representation of the United States Government in the Supreme Court of the United States and all other courts, foreign and domestic, in which the United States is a party or has an interest as may be deemed appropriate.
  • Perform or supervise the performance of other duties required by statute or Executive Order.

Then there’s this:  that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the [Constitution]

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, Eric Holder offered an alarming new doctrine for the Republic: laws are only suggestions, and the real authority to enforce or not enforce them lies in the hands of the president and his cabinet officers.

The Hill reports:

Leading the questioning was House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who asked Holder whether he believed there were any limits to the administration’s prosecutorial discretion.

“There is a vast amount of discretion that a president has — and more specifically that an attorney general has,” Holder responded. “But that discretion has to be used in an appropriate way so that your acting consistent with the aims of the statute but at the same time making sure that you are acting in a way that is consistent with our values, consistent with the Constitution and protecting the American people."

So, apparently if a president or his AG thinks that a law on the books is not “consistent with our [his and the president’s?] values, it is optional

For what it is worth, here is the oath that Holder took:

“I 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.” (Emphasis added)

Banana republic thinking is upon us.

Update. Lauri Regan adds:

“faithfully discharge the duties of the office”

Well what are the duties of office?  From:  http://www.justice.gov/jmd/mps/manual/ag.htm

The position of Attorney General was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789. In June 1870 Congress enacted a law entitled “An Act to Establish the Department of Justice.” This Act established the Attorney General as head of the Department of Justice and gave the Attorney General direction and control of U.S. Attorneys and all other counsel employed on behalf of the United States. The Act also vested in the Attorney General supervisory power over the accounts of U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals.

The mission of the Office of the Attorney General is to supervise and direct the administration and operation of the Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Bureau of Prisons, Office of Justice Programs, and the U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals Service, which are all within the Department of Justice.

The principal duties of the Attorney General are to:

  • Represent the United States in legal matters.
  • Supervise and direct the administration and operation of the offices, boards, divisions, and bureaus that comprise the Department.
  • Furnish advice and opinions, formal and informal, on legal matters to the President and the Cabinet and to the heads of the executive departments and agencies of the government, as provided by law.
  • Make recommendations to the President concerning appointments to federal judicial positions and to positions within the Department, including U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals.
  • Represent or supervise the representation of the United States Government in the Supreme Court of the United States and all other courts, foreign and domestic, in which the United States is a party or has an interest as may be deemed appropriate.
  • Perform or supervise the performance of other duties required by statute or Executive Order.

Then there’s this:  that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the [Constitution]

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

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