Groups Across the Spectrum Join Forces in Defense of Separation of Powers
For Immediate Release
Mike Webb, 212-998-6746
Rutherford Institute, CREW, JudicialWatch and Brennan Center Argue
Miers/Bolten Subpoenas Should Proceed
Today, attorneys at the BrennanCenter for Justice filed a brief asking the District Court of Washington DC to allow Congress to proceed with its efforts to enforce the subpoenas issued against White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers in the executive privilege case related to the contentious 2006 firing of nine U.S. Attorneys.
The Brennan Center brief argues that if the Court dismisses the action, as requested by Bolten's and Miers' attorneys, it could deal a significant blow to the Constitution's separation of powers and "would signal to future presidents that they could hide behind executive privilege regardless of whether their legal claim was weak or strong—or even baseless."
The House Judiciary Committee is investigating what role White House officials had in the firing of several U.S. Attorneys. The House issued subpoenas in order to compel Miers and Bolten to cooperate with the investigation. But they have refused to testify or provide crucial documents to the committee because the President has invoked executive privilege and will not allow the pair to cooperate.
"The Committee is investigating allegations that partisan operatives commandeered Congress's criminal laws and the machinery of the Department of Justice for improper purposes," said Emily Berman, the Katz Fellow in the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center and one of the co-authors of the brief. "Information supplied by federal officials has been riddled with gaps and inconsistencies, raising the possibility that the Committee and the public have been misled. Congress can obtain these missing facts only from executive officials allegedly implicated in misconduct."
The Brennan Center brief was filed on behalf of four diverse groups: The Rutherford Institute (a non-profit conservative legalorganization); Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (or CREW—a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government), Judicial Watch (a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation that promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government), and the Brennan Center itself. Together, the groups have decades of experience in promoting democracy and holding government officials accountable for their actions.
"This case raises questions of fundamental importance to our Constitution's system of Separation of Powers," said Berman. "Congress's constitutional obligation to ensure that the Executive acts within the bounds of the law requires that it complete this important investigation. Should the court deny it the power to do so, Congress's oversight authority will be compromised, and with it our constitutional balance of power.
The Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law fights to preserve our constitutional values against erosion in the post-9/11 world and to set meaningful limits on the exercise of executive power. If you would like to arrange an interview with Ms. Berman to discuss the case, please contact Susan Lehman or Mike Webb in the Communications Department at the Brennan Center for Justice (212-998-6370).
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