Might the confirmation process for President-elect Barack Obama’s attorney general designate be tougher than previously expected?
Yesterday, ranking Senate Judiciary Committee Republican Arlen Specter blasted Eric Holder, questioning Holder’s independence and saying that his record in the Clinton Justice Department shows that he may be merely a presidential “yes” man.
“He’s had an outstanding academic and professional record, and I acknowledge that early on,” Mr. Specter said of Holder in a 25-minute Senate floor speech yesterday, according to The New York Times. “But aside from these qualifications on Mr. Holder’s résumé, there is also the issue of character, and sometimes it is more important for the attorney general to have the stature and the courage to say no instead of to say yes.”
Specter’s warnings about Holder could signal a rockier-than-expected confirmation for the nominee. Although Holder has enough Senate support to be confirmed, the hearings, which start Jan. 15, may feature some fireworks.
An Obama spokesman brushed aside Specter’s criticisms. “From prosecuting corrupt officials from both parties to supporting the appointment of independent counsels to investigate Democrats, Eric Holder has demonstrated throughout his career that he has the integrity and independence to be an outstanding attorney general,” spokesman Nick Shapiro said.
Meanwhile this morning, Senate Judiciary Committee members Sheldon Whitehouse and Benjamin Cardin are set to join leaders of groups including the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the National Council of La Raza and the National Women’s Law Center to voice support for the nominee in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room on the Hill.