Angry New Yorker

Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy and Other Democrat Senators were at it again today...

I don't know how Senator Joe Biden passed the Delaware bar. (See Biography of Senator Biden, available at (noting he "graduated from . . . Syracuse University College of Law in 1968. Prior to his election to the Senator, Biden practiced law in Wilmington, Delaware . . . . Since 1991, Biden has been an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law, where he teaches a seminar on constitutional law.")). Senator Biden's grasp of U.S. law and the constitution appears, judging from his statements and his comments on, say, C-SPAN, extremely squishy, and I feel for the students he teaches at Widener Univ. Indeed, Senator Biden's biography flatly proclaims he's "[o]ne of the most respected voices on national security and civil liberties. . . ." Id. I suppose that viewpoint depends who you ask. I don't think Biden's a "bad" man; he's merely terribly confused and has gotten increasingly strident over the past years.

This afternoon Senator Biden and the usual suspects grilled Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft during a full Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "DOJ Oversight: Terrorism and Other Topics." (Watch the entire hearing online via C-SPAN, available at rtsp://; see also Statement of the Honorable Orrin Hatch, June 8, 2004, available at; Statement of the Honorable Patrick Leahy, June 8, 2004, available at
Although it appeared he simply could not believe what some of the Senators were saying to him, Atty. Gen. Ashcroft's one-two jabs at Senators Kennedy, Biden and others were worth watching. (See also Statement of John Ashcroft Attorney General Before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate Oversight of the Department of Justice: Terrorism and Other Topics, June 8, 2004, available at I only wish Gen. Ashcroft had more of a sense of humor. Humor goes a long way. In fact, I view anyone without a good sense of humor rather askance. President Reagan certainly torpedoed his critics via humor more effectively than through any stern rebuffing -- a lesson I could benefit from as well [after all, I'm the "Angry" NYker, not the Jovial NYker, nor the Humorous, but Effective NYker].

But this brings me back to Joe Biden. After Atty. Gen. Ashcroft, a former Senator himself, stated he would not turn over the memos to Congress, nor detail his rationale for the withholding beyond executive branch independence (he expressly did not invoke executive privilege, which only the President can invoke), Senator Biden responded,
"General that means you may be in contempt of Congress then. * * * You gotta have a reason not to answer are questions as you know from sitting up here. * * * You are not allowed under our constitution not to answer our questions. And that ain't, that ain't constitutional."
Really? Do tell, Senator. Where in the constitution does it say the executive branch must answer specific questions posed by congress? You must be working off a different version of the Constitution, because in my copy no such language appears. Indeed, I searched Article I in vain to find such any text granting Congress the right to command the Executive branch to answer questions. What I do see in Article II, which elaborates upon the executive branch, is Section 2, cl. 1 provides some strong support for the Attorney General's position. Namely it says:

"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, . . . Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments,. . . ."
U.S. Const. art. II, sec. 2, cl. 1.

A case can easily be made that Congress has no power to demand these internal documents from either the Attorney General or the President, and it would do Biden and Kennedy well to keep in mind that we have a three-branch government, not two branches and then some guys who work for the President.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?