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Posted by on Jul 13, 2007 in Politics | 5 comments

Harriet Miers Refuses To Show Up To House Judiciary Committee

The Bush administration is throwing down so many gauntlets to Congress that Congress can soon sell several sets on eBay.

There are so many gauntlets, that if they sell them all on eBay they won’t have to need money from lobbyists ever again.

The latest gauntlet to be hurled down with a flourish is a seemingly unprecedented snub — Bush confidante and lawyer Harriet Miers not just refusing to testify before Congress…but actually not even showing up. The GOOD NEWS is that, as many Americans who aren’t Republican partisans read this, they’re thanking God for the conservatives who nixed her nomination to the Supreme Court.

If you cut away all of the rhetorical correctness, the administration is basically saying “we dare you to do something about it” and giving a “half a peace sign” to Congress. What will Congress do (if anything)?

But there IS another perspective on what’s happening; that a lot of this is business-as usual. Read this TIME Magazine piece. A key quote:

If the dispute sounds familiar, that is because almost every President and Congress since the nation’s founding have butted heads over Executive privilege. It may seem like legal insanity, but the constitutional separation of powers means neither branch can impose rules that might avert a future clash. So, what about the courts? That’s where legal experts and political pundits often look for an answer. And they are usually disappointed, for a simple reason: the government was designed to dissuade courts from getting involved in power struggles between the President and Congress.

….The upshot is that too few courts have ruled on Executive privilege to give Congress or the President much help in determining when the privilege will stand and when it will give way to congressional interests. Without clear rules to follow or judges to show the way, the only thing left–after an appropriate amount of chest thumping–has been compromise.

But such compromise doesn’t seem to be in the offing for Bush and the Judiciary committees. “What feels different this time is how both sides are really digging in hard,” says Mark Rozell, a professor at George Mason University and the author of two books on Executive privilege. “I’m especially struck by the White House’s all-or-nothing approach.” That approach probably derives not only from Bush’s zeal for guarding presidential power but also from the fact that the U.S. attorney firings are only one of several issues lined up for congressional investigation. Also in motion are probes into the Administration’s domestic surveillance program and the commutation of I. Lewis Libby’s sentence for perjury. Giving in too easily now might weaken the Administration in skirmishes to come.

But as Rozell reminds us, rancorous disputes between Congress and the President are “not always a bad thing. Usually, it’s just the system working as intended.”

Here’s a compilation of what happened when Miers simply refused to show up:

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