Erik Larson

Apr 1, 2009

Holder, The Justice Department, and Justice

I’ve been thinking about the Ted Stevens’ conviction dismissal more tonight, and I gotta give a shout out to AG Holder and the Justice Department. The Department of Justice under Holder seems to have made a clear statement that law will not be subjugated to politics at the DOJ. How else do we interpret his actions today?

It was, personally, Eric Holder— Obama’s pick for Attorney General, someone who the Right regards as deeply suspicious, a Lefty with an agenda—that called an end to the Stevens indictment fiasco. Why? Politics? Popularity? Hardly. This is embarrasing to Democrats, who now must concede (if silently) both that Republicans likely would have held Alaska in the elections and that the gotcha attitude about the indictment of Stevens seems, in retrospect, like hasty, partisan S hodenfreud.

Back to Eric Holder. In the wake of the Gonzales years (Bush’s AG offered up “I don’t recall” so many times in congressional hearings about the firing of U.S. attorneys that he became a kind of national joke, an intellectually undermanned Bush figure head besmirching yet another once respected American institution with transparent bumbling evasiveness), it’s refreshing to see the spirit of non-partisan respect for the rule of law in the office of the AG. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Kudos for Holder for sending a message that “justice” and “politics” are to be kept separate.

Republicans and Conservatives intent on poking and prodding Obama’s picks for high office have a little back peddling to do now too, it would seem. National Review Online wrote an op-ed about Holder in November 2008 that included the following let-em-rip assessment of our latest AG:

“He is convinced justice in America needs to be “established” rather than enforced; he’s excited about hate crimes and enthusiastic about the constitutionally dubious Violence Against Women Act; he’s a supporter of affirmative action and a practitioner of the statistical voodoo that makes it possible to burden police departments with accusations of racial profiling and the states with charges of racially skewed death-penalty enforcement; he’s more likely to be animated by a touchy-feely Reno-esque agenda than traditional enforcement against crimes; he’s in favor of ending the detentions of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay and favors income redistribution to address the supposed root causes of crime.”

If Holder is so partisan, so left wing, so agenda driven, how now do we explain his dismissal of the Stevens corruption indictment? Sounds like Holder’s doing his duty to the American people to me. Sounds like there’s an interest in justice at the DOJ. Sounds like American government isn’t just petty politics—isn’t always petty politics—after all.