The next Attorney General?

Mark’s notion that the next Attorney General needs to have nonpartisan credentials makes a certain amount of sense, if for no other reason that Democrats need to create the perception that the government represents the entire public and can do competently. (Republicans gain an advantage with incompetent and partisan government because it reduces the public’s faith in government to begin with; thus Mitt Romney argued against health care expansion by saying “I don’t want the guys who ran the [Hurricane] Katrina cleanup running my health care system.”).

So–assuming that a Democrat gains the Presidency in November, and with this principle in mind, I’m wondering whether people think that there is any Republican or Independent with sufficient integrity to serve effectively in a Democratic Administration. Note: this AG would also have to adopt some Democratic policies. The AG shouldn’t be as partisan as, say, anyone who has ever served in the Bush DOJ, but at the same time, there are policy areas, such as civil rights, civil liberties, criminal justice, environmental enforcement, etc. that have a clear partisan valence (i.e. Democrats tend to be in favor of such things and Republicans do not.).

Who are good candidates? At one time, I thought that perhaps William Weld might be a decent candidate, but that may be too partisan on the other side. Perhaps Pat Fitzgerald?

Send thoughts and I will post with your and my comments. I will not include your name unless you tell me that I can.

UPDATE. Here are some early candidates:

Carol Lam

Gerard Lynch

Bruce Fein

John Dean

The first two seem like interesting possibilities, although we don’t know much about their policies. A colleague knows Lam, and told me when the US Attorney scandal broke that she is a superb lawyer and an absolute straight-shooter as a prosecutor. Bruce Fein has certainly shown himself to have a lot of integrity, but even so, he is VERY conservative–you couldn’t sell him even as a moderate Republican. Right now he is of counsel to the Ron Paul campaign. I don’t think that would fly even for someone promising “unity.”

As for John Dean: wow. It shows you just how much this administration has destroyed the Department of Justice that someone convicted of the obstruction of justice could be considered as someone to clean up Dubya’s mess.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.