Obama has been under fire recently for supporting several decisions by the Supreme Court which flew in the face of campaign promises; one decision which shut down a civil suit based on "state secrets," another that offended same-sex marriage supporters, and most recently one in which the court ruled that convicted persons did not have the right to DNA testing for the purpose of appeal. (To over-simplify all three issues.) In all three cases "Obama’s Justice Department" actively sought and argued for the ruling that the Supreme Court made.
It seems to me that Obama critics are being a bit hypocritical here, but I’m not sure to what degree that is the case. From where I sit it looks like the same people who were screaming about Bush interfering with the Department of Justice are now screaming about Obama not doing so.
Let’s go back to a "major scandal" about the firing of a handful of Attorneys General by the Bush Administration and the subsequent resignation of Alberto Gonzalez. Wasn’t one of the biggest criticisms of Fredo that he let the president interfere in the operation of the Justice Department?
The Department of Justice is supposed to administer justice impartially, apolitically. The uproar over Gonzalez was that it failed to do that.
In all three of the cases mentioned above, Obama is being criticized for refusing to reverse arguments that had begun during Bush's administration, or to at least cease making those arguments, but doing that would have been blatantly political, would it not? Is it okay for the president to order the DoJ to change its position in the middle of an ongoing court case? My understanding of the nature of an "independent, apolitical" Department of Justice is that it is not.
When Bush put his hand into the operation of the DoJ we criticized him for doing so, and now that Obama is not putting his hand in we criticize him for not doing so. You can’t have it both ways saying, in effect, "We want the president to keep hands off when we don’t like his policies, but now that we have a president with policies we like we want him to interfere."
We’re critical of him for not violating principle? I’m not sure of this because I have no legal training and I’m not certain of precisely how independent the Department of Justice is supposed to be, but it’s food for thought.