Looking Forward From Gonzales

Attorney General Alberto Gonzaels' resigned earlier. Senator Dodd called for Gonzales' resignation in May, while simultaneously offering a resolution in the Senate urging President Bush to replace Gonzales, and today issued a strong statement on the personnel move.

Hopefully now that Mr. Gonzales no longer occupies a seat in the Bush administration, he'll be more forthcoming about details surrounding the US Attorneys scandal, warrantless surveillance programs, and a host of other Congressional investigations that he has used his office to stymy. As Steve Benen writes, “His resignation does not end the inquiry into the DoJ’s many scandals. Laws may have been broken and lawmakers still want answers. Gonzales’ decision to exit stage right doesn’t change that.”

President Bush must nominate an individual with a record that lacks Mr. Gonzales' penchant for toeing the administration line ahead of his Constitutional duties to uphold the law. That individual must be given a full and comprehensive hearing before the Senate to determine their fitness for the role of Attorney General of the United States. A recess appointment is not an acceptable option. For now it seems that the President is asking US Solicitor Paul Clement to serve as acting Attorney General until a replacement is confirmed on a permanent basis. Looking forward, someone coming from outside the Bush administration is going to be the best course for finding an acceptable replacement with adequate credentials is an independent-minded, accomplished lawyer.

Gonzales' resignation offers the country another opportunity to inspect what has occurred during the Bush administration and what needs to be done to restore the rule of law in America. Senator Dodd has laid down a clear marker on where he stands and what he is looking for in the next Attorney General. Restoring the Constitution and upholding the law, while pushing for reforms within the Department of Justice, will require other senators join Senator Dodd in his call for a “truly independent” replacement. Now is the time for a real, meaningful change following the vision for reform provided by the Senator who's been called “D-Constitution” — Chris Dodd.

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