The House Judiciary Committee today voted along party lines to recommend that the full house hold White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former legal counselor Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress. Under direction from President Bush, Miers refused to appear before the committee last week, and both officials have refused to hand over documents relevant to the improper firing of nine U.S. Attorneys last year, despite subpoenas issued by the committee.
People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas issued the following statement:
“Respect for the rule of law is fundamental to any democracy, and today’s vote is a desperately needed step towards restoring it without exception. Americans deserve to get the full story behind the U.S. Attorney firing, and we’ve seen that we won’t get it without a thorough investigation by Congress. The Bush administration has shown that it places political expediency and self-protection far above its allegiance to the Constitution.
“Both Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten have flaunted the law by refusing to obey duly authorized subpoenas. For six years, Congressional leaders tolerated this kind of arrogance from the administration, and it’s refreshing to see that the new majority understands the importance of restoring checks and balances. Unfortunately, today’s party line vote make it clear that there are still those who put partisan loyalty above their responsibility to their constituents and the Constitution.
“The President still has the opportunity to work with Congress to avert a constitutional conflict, and I hope that he will surprise us all and do just that. In the meantime, Congress should continue its efforts to enforce its subpoenas and the rule of law.”
An online petition sponsored by People For the American Way calling for Congress to hold Miers and Bolten in contempt has received over 20,000 signatures from members and activists in under 24 hours.