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Reply to " Bush Picks Alberto Gonzales to Replace Ashcroft at Justice Dept."

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, November 15, 2004
Contact: Michael Avery, NLG President,



Gonzales will continue Ashcroft policies that threaten constitutional democracy

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) announced that it opposes the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for the position of Attorney General.

The NLG condemned Gonzales for his approval of the torture of prisoners in memos he adopted as White House Counsel. The memos explained how American officials could escape legal liability for torture. Gonzales rejected the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to prisoners taken during the "war against terrorism," terming some of the Geneva provisions "quaint." The Guild said that Gonzales's contempt for accepted international law principles rendered him unfit to serve as the head of the Justice Department.

NLG President Michael Avery declared that, "The Constitution requires that the United States treat international treaties that it has signed as the supreme law of the land in the United States. It is the solemn obligation of the Attorney General to make sure that the United States complies with international law. It would be outrageous for the nation's top law enforcement officer to be contriving theories for American officials to avoid accountability for actions such as the torture of prisoners."

The Guild also said that it was deeply concerned by Gonzales's record in reviewing death penalty cases in Texas for then Governor Bush. An analysis of Gonzales's memos to the governor demonstrated that he repeatedly suppressed crucial facts that Bush should have considered in determining whether to grant clemency, such as "ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence."

The Guild said that Gonzales's radical ideological positions were responsible for the right-wing litmus test that he employed to recommend judicial nominees to President Bush. Gonzales's participation in the drafting of the USA PATRIOT Act demonstrates that he will continue the Ashcroft policy of sacrificing civil liberties in the name of the "war on terror."

The Guild called upon the Democrats in the Senate to filibuster if necessary to block the Gonzales nomination. NLG President Michael Avery said, "The suggestion that has appeared in the media that Democrats may be afraid to oppose Gonzales because he is a Latino is offensive. If Gonzales were living in a Latin American country he would no doubt be a member of a repressive oligarchy. It would be wonderful to have a Latino Attorney General, but he or she should be someone who respects the rule of law."

The National Lawyers Guild is an association of attorneys, law students and legal workers dedicated to the proposition that human rights are more important than property rights.