"In its stronger versions, it embraces and promotes a notion of consolidated presidential power that essentially isolates the Executive Branch from any type of congressional or judicial oversight. And it is much more than an academic theory. Rather it is an operative way of thinking about and applying Executive Branch power that has had and will continue to have real-world consequences for our republic and for the international community."
Barr makes no secret he adheres to the robust version. In an astonishing address delivered Nov. 15 at the Federalist Society's annual lawyers convention in Washington, D.C., he advanced a vision of virtually unchecked presidential power. Attacking what he vaguely referred to as "the left" for promoting a "scorched-earth, no-holds war of 'Resistance' against... the Trump administration," he contended that "since the mid-'60s, there has been a steady grinding down of the executive branch's authority that accelerated after Watergate.
"The premise [of the Resistance] is that the greatest danger of government becoming oppressive arises from the prospect of executive excess. So, there is a knee-jerk tendency to see the legislative and judicial branches as the good guys protecting society from a rapacious would-be autocrat. This prejudice is wrong-headed and atavistic."
Invoking the Founding Fathers, whom he maintained supported sweeping presidential powers, he lamented the many lawsuits that have been filed to block Trump administration policies, concluding that "it is critical to our nation's future that we restore and preserve in their full vigor our founding principles. Not the least of these is the framers' vision of a strong, independent executive."
Barr's Justice Department will play the role of amicus curiae ("friend of the court") in the three financial records cases now pending before the Supreme Court. Together with Trump's private attorneys, the department will be well-positioned to advance Barr's views on executive authority and his bare-knuckle defense of Trump in what is shaping up as a constitutional showdown for the ages.
Are Chief Justice Roberts and the other members of the nation's highest judicial body up for the challenge? Are they prepared to demonstrate that there are no such things as "Trump judges?" We'll have an answer by the end of June.
This article originally posted on Truthdig
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).