Guess which beleaguered public official is poised to grab even more power—Alberto Gonzales. A hidden provision in the reauthorization of the Patriot Act allows states to opt in to a program aimed at expediting the federal appeals process for death row inmates. This provision gives the attorney general the authority to deny an appeal before it even reaches federal court for review. The attorney general’s job is to present such a case before the court, not to decide it.
Sound familiar? There was another provision that was quietly slipped into the reauthorization of the Patriot Act granting Gonzales excess power. You know, the one that allowed him to appoint interim U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation? Shouldn’t we be scouring that bill for more sneaky power-granting amendments?
And it’s not difficult to predict what Gonzales will do with this newfound control over capital litigation. As gubernatorial counsel to Bush for three years in Texas, Gonzales advised him on 57 executions. Clemency was denied in all of them.