Our reasons may differ, but add our vote to the chorus of social conservative groups clamoring against a possible nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales to the Supreme Court. Because of his central role in decisions taken by the administration to flout international law in pursuing the war on terrorism, Gonzales was a poor choice for the attorney general's office -- as we stated earlier this year -- and he would certainly be a disastrous choice for the Supreme Court.
As White House counsel, Gonzales, a longtime friend of President Bush, wrote a memo in early 2002 arguing that detainees in Afghanistan and in other war-on-terrorism theaters were not subject to Geneva Convention protections, which he shrugged off as "quaint." Also, much to the distress of then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and many in the military, the White House's chief lawyer was intent on pushing an exceedingly narrow definition of torture that allowed for prisoner mistreatment.
Had he been a responsible counselor to his client, Gonzales would have urged Bush not to take the expedient shortcuts that led to the scandals at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, and the unlawful detention of U.S. citizens denied access to counsel.
Even Justice Antonin Scalia, among the most conservative of jurists, was outraged by the White House's assertion, built on Gonzales' advice, that the executive branch could suspend the rule of law to fight terrorism. "The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been the freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the executive branch," wrote Scalia in his opinion in the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, the U.S. citizen held incommunicado in a military brig.