"An unsuitable steward of the law"

Conservatives call for the ouster of Alberto Gonzales.

Published April 16, 2007 4:23PM (EDT)

Alberto Gonzales doesn't testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee until Tuesday, but we can pretty much script out the back-and-forth he'll have with some Republican senators now. We can count on Arlen Specter to play tough cop -- at least until it comes time to do something more than talk -- but GOP stalwarts like Orrin Hatch and John Cornyn will do what they always do: Stick up for the Bush administration by asking the flailing witness du jour a series of softball, suck-up questions.

But that's not to say that all conservatives are ready to absolve Gonzales for what has gone wrong at the Justice Department. Sen. John Sununu and Gordon Smith -- neither of whom sits on the Judiciary Committee -- have both said that it's time for Gonzales to go. The National Review, which has never much liked this attorney general, has called for his resignation as well. And now Bob Barr, the former Republican representative turned Bush critic, has brought together a group of high-profile conservatives to say that they, too, believe that Gonzales should be history.

As Time reports, the conservatives' complaint goes far beyond the prosecutor purge. The Barr group -- which includes former Reagan Justice Departent official Bruce Fein, American Conservative Union chairman David Keene and GOP fundraiser Richard Viguerie -- says that Gonzales has "presided over an unprecedented crippling of the Constitution's time-honored checks and balances," "brought rule of law into disrepute," debased honesty as the coin of the realm," "engendered the suspicion that partisan politics trumps evenhanded law enforcement in the Department of Justice," and "proven an unsuitable steward of the law."

Other than that, Sen. Hatch, we're sure he's doing a heck of a job.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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