Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Contempt isn’t just an eight-letter word

For all of you out there holding your breath, waiting for the Democratically-led Congress to hold the Bush administration accountable for something, this week just might be the week you get to exhale. Still, why do I have the nagging feeling this will be another exercise in gulping down more air and turning ever bluer as a result? Take this line from this morning’s New York Times:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, would not confirm the pending vote on Tuesday night. “One of these days,” Ms. Pelosi said.
Makes you all warm and fuzzy, right? The story explains that Democratic leaders may finally follow through on their pledge to bring a contempt resolution against White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers to the House floor for a vote. The vote could come as early as tomorrow. One group, the American Freedom Campaign, has had supporters send nearly 19,000 emails to U.S. representatives, urging them to use their power to hold Bolten and Meiers in contempt for defying congressional subpoenas surrounding the investigation into whether U.S. Attorneys were fired for political reasons. They are hopeful. The American Freedom Campaign (AFC) was founded in July 2007 by MoveOn.org co-founder Wes Boyd, scientist and social entrepreneur William Haseltine, Fenton Communications CEO David Fenton, and Naomi Wolf, author of The End of America with the goal to create grassroots support to restore checks and balances and reverse abuses of power by the executive branch. It has long pushed Congress to find Bush officials in contempt. The House Judiciary Committee approved the contempt citations, on a party-line vote, more than six months ago, but the resolution has stagnated since—despite efforts by activists to spur Democrats to challenge the Bush administration flouting of the Constitution. The AFC was certainly hopeful that Congress will follow through—this time. “After months of frustration, we are cautiously optimistic that the House will finally have the opportunity to vote on this extremely important resolution,” said Steve Fox, AFC’s campaign director. “In order for our system of checks and balances to be effective, Congress must have oversight over the executive branch. When Bolten and Miers refused to comply with the congressional subpoenas last summer, they were tacitly saying that this oversight power no longer existed. If they are not held in contempt – and prosecuted in the courts – our Constitution will have been defiled.” In November, the AFC launched the “American Lawyers Defending the Constitution” campaign. As part of this effort, more than 2,000 lawyers and law students – including former New York governor Mario Cuomo, former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein, and more than 100 law professors – have signed a statement calling for investigations into Bush administration actions. For more information, visit the American Freedom Campaign’s website. If they do vote these folks in contempt, can impeachment be far behind?


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