A most intriguing line of questioning transpired during the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the firings of the eight U.S. Attorneys. During Senator Lindsey Graham's interrogation of the former U.S. Attorneys, the first-term South Carolina Senator made some very telling remarks.
Graham began his round of questioning by asking the four U.S. Attorneys how long they had served in office. They provided their tenures in office, which for each was under six years. Senator Graham replied:
"Those are long stints aren't they as U.S. Attorneys? In my state I'm trying to get as many people through that job as I possibly can. Particularly young lawyers who I see to have great potential serving down the road on the Bench... Do you all agree this is an employment at will job?"
Interesting. Graham supports the rotation of leadership, and abdicating jobs so others can serve.
Graham went on to say, "Let me just say this about each one of ya. I think you all understand the nature of the job. That it's a political appointment but it's also a public responsibility. Once you get there it's not your job to play politics. It's your job to enforce the law and these are long stints."
Again with the long stints. Senator Graham most certainly believes six years is a long enough time for anyone to hold office. Graham continues:
"I mean in South Carolina I don't know what's the longest serving U.S. Attorney in an eight year period, but I consciously try to cycle people through just because it's a wonderful experience to have. It's not a lifetime job. It's gonna end one day and the more people who can have that experience the better.... The right reason to me [to leave that job] is just I want some other people to have that experience."
Well, Senator Graham, I certainly hope you apply those same standards of fairness and courtesy to yourself. Clearly you believe jobs should not be held for a long length of time. Instead they should be passed on to as many people as possible. So, in the spirit of fairness, will you impose these same time limits on yourself? Will you step down from your Senate seat at the end of your six years to make room for another? Someone with a new vitality to reinvigorate the Senate seat from the great state of South Carolina?
I listened carefully to the testimonies of the four fired U.S. Attorneys when they appeared before you. Frankly, each one of them is as intelligent as you. Each one of them shares your knowledge of the law. Each one of them has been a hard-working public servant like you.
True, you were elected and they were selected. But really, isn't an election a selection after all? Weren't you selected by the people of South Carolina? In fact, weren't you in effect, "appointed" by the people of South Carolina? And don't you serve at the pleasure of the people of South Carolina like the U.S. Attorneys served at the pleasure of the President of the United States?
Indeed, your similarities are striking. As a member of the Judiciary Committee you perform many of the same duties. You research the law. You take legal positions. You prepare witnesses. You cross-examine witnesses. The likenesses are strong.
So... if it's noble to hand power and position to others to better them and to better the system, then why don't you do the same? If selflessness is expected of these former U.S. Attorneys, then why shouldn't it be expected of you? You believe in term limits. Why don't you term limit YOU??
In the words of Constitutional lawyer, Steven Rohde, pertaining to your statements to the U.S. Attorneys, "Applying Lindsay Graham's standards to his own time on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I guess he has outlived his usefulness and should promptly resign."
There you have it, Senator Graham. Mr. Rohde has suggested a compromise. If you resign from the Judiciary Committee you can still keep your seat in the Senate. That's not as magnanimous as handing over your Senate seat. But at least it's a start.
So what shall it be, Senator Graham? A double standard? A noble standard? Or no standards at all?
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