BY ANDREA SAENZ
On Friday, September 14th, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales ’82 stepped down from his post, ending a term marked with a number of scandals and power struggles between the Department of Justice, the White House, and the Congress.
A number of Harvard Law students were pleased to see Gonzales finally leave office. On Monday, student activists passed out a satirical fake letter from the exiting Attorney General to students waiting in line for lunch before Dean Kagan’s State of the School address.
“The folks at the office were real nice [about my resignation],” said the letter. “Cheney gave me Geneva Conventions toilet paper. I thought that was funny. Bush gave me a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card signed by ‘Scooter.’ That was a relief, though it expires in 2008, which isn’t good. Ashcroft didn’t come to the party, which made me a little sad. He’s still angry about that whole hospital thing. Next time = flowers.”
Along the same lines, HLS Advocates for Human Rights held a “Goodbye Gonzo” party after their introductory meeting, complete with cake, party hats, and noisemakers.
On Monday morning, President George W. Bush nominated former federal judge Michael Mukasey to serve out the remainder of Gonzales’s term. Mukasey appeared to be less high-profile and less controversial a pick than other candidates who were mentioned for the post over the last several weeks, including Department of Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff ’78 or former Solicitor General Ted Olson.
“I’ve only read a little about him,” said 3L Scott Paltrowitz. “I guess he’ll do.”
“He seems like a very law-and-order guy,” added 3L Fernando Delgado. “He did do the case where he said you had to give Padilla a lawyer, so that’s something.”
Mukasey graduated from Columbia University and Yale Law School, and spent time as an Assistant United States Attorney in New York and an a lawyer at the firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated Mukasey to the federal bench, and he served on the Southern District of New York for 18 years, including a 6-year tenure as Chief Judge of the court. During that time, Mukasey presided over a number of high-profile terrorism-related trials, including that of Jose Padilla, in which he ruled that the terrorism suspect was entitled to consult with counsel.
Mukasey has been an ardent defender of the Patriot Act, most publicly in a 2004 editorial in the Wall Street Journal. Recently, he has been an advisor and close friend to presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, and has previously received praise from Senator Charles Schumer ’74, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee that will vet Mukasey’s nomination.
This week, Mukasey met with many of the senators on the Judiciary Committee to prepare for his nomination hearing. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that President Bush would like to see his nominee confirmed by October 8.