Holder Didn’t Disclose Seven Legal Briefs to Senate Business Week
March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Attorney General Eric Holder failed to give senators considering his nomination last year at least seven Supreme Court legal briefs he signed while in private practice.
The department sent a letter today to the Senate Judiciary Committee listing briefs in terrorism and criminal cases that hadn’t been disclosed. The failure to provide the briefs was “inadvertent,” said Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman.
The Justice Department yesterday said it mistakenly failed to provide the committee with a 2004 brief signed by Holder saying a terrorism suspect shouldn’t be treated as an enemy combatant. That omission was first highlighted in an article in the National Review co-written by Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman who worked for former President George W. Bush.
The briefs, available publicly, were supposed to have been provided during the course of Holder’s confirmation hearings for attorney general. Republican lawmakers faulted Holder for failing to provide them.
“It is simply unacceptable that briefs in such significant cases were not provided to the committee so that they could be discussed during his confirmation hearings,” said Stephen Boyd, a spokesman for Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who is the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
Boyd added: “Now that the attorney general has finally provided the committee with these important documents some 14 months after they should have been turned over, we can begin the discussion of the critical and substantive questions raised by these briefs.”
In a letter today to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, a Democrat, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich said “ it has come to our attention” that not all of the briefs filed by, or on behalf of, Holder had been provided to the Senate. He said the department regretted the omission.[...]
Representing Holder’s Views
In six of the cases identified by Weich, Holder and other former government officials filed friend-of-the-court briefs to reflect their views. In the seventh case, Holder was representing a defendant in a criminal case.
In two of the briefs, Holder and other former government officials argued that the Bush administration lacked authority to hold an American citizen suspected of plotting terrorism as an enemy combatant. The officials argued that Jose Padilla, who was arrested in Chicago and held without charges by the military, should have been put into the civilian criminal justice system.
The Supreme Court never ruled on that issue. The court in the first case said that Padilla filed his bid for release in the wrong court and in the second case refused to hear Padilla’s appeal.
In another dispute, Holder unsuccessfully urged the Supreme Court to consider arguments that Florida’s ban on felon voting is racially discriminatory.