Live and Learn: Depoliticizing the Interim Appointments of U.S. Attorneys
40 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2007
The recent firings of eight U.S. Attorneys have raised serious questions regarding the politicization of the Department of Justice. This politicization was fueled, in part, by a change in the appointment procedure for interim U.S. Attorneys. The USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 shifted the power to make long-term interim appointments from the Chief Judges of federal districts to the Attorney General. If retained, this provision would have allowed the Attorney General to appoint interim appointees indefinitely and to bypass Senate scrutiny of replacement U.S. Attorneys in formal confirmation hearings. Although the changed procedure was short-lived, it highlighted the importance of having a fair process to appoint interim U.S. Attorneys - a procedure that provides the Senate and public an opportunity to see why U.S. Attorneys are being replaced and to safeguard against Administration attempts to manipulate particular investigations and prosecutions.
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