Justice

Obama Reportedly Vetting Senior Staffer To Tenther Republican Senator For U.S. Attorney Job

Tenther U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)

The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that President Obama is vetting a truly bizarre candidate for a U.S. Attorney position in Utah — a senior adviser to tenther Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT):

The White House is vetting David Barlow, who is currently the legal counsel to U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, to possibly be the next U.S. attorney for Utah, and Utah Democrats aren’t happy about it. The office, a presidential appointment, has been vacant for 18 months. […]

“I think it’s a travesty,” said Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party. “There is a phenomenally talented bunch of Democratic attorneys in the state of Utah. To have to make that kind of political compromise is just ridiculous.

Taylor said the state party has recommended more than a half-dozen qualified candidates and, to his knowledge, none had heard any response from the White House. “It’s an insult,” Taylor said.

Barlow’s close association with Lee raises very serious questions about whether he can be trusted to enforce laws intended to protect ordinary Americans ability to earn a living, be safe from natural disasters and enjoy a secure retirement. Lee believes that federal child labor laws, FEMA, food stamps, the FDA, Medicaid, income assistance for the poor, and even Medicare and Social Security violate the Constitution. Before Barlow can be trusted to serve as Utah’s chief federal prosecutor, he should — at a bare minimum — be required to disavow all of his boss’ most indefensible positions on the Constitution, and he should testify that he will enforce each of these laws vigorously and without reservation to the extent his job requires him to do so.

To be fair to Obama, the fact that Barlow is being vetted does not necessarily mean that he will be nominated. The Obama Administration previously vetted former Bush Administration official Scott Burns for the same job at the urging of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), but appears to have abandoned that suggestion. It is entirely possible that the Barlow vetting will end similarly.

Should the White House decide to move forward with Barlow, however, it should go without saying that Utah cannot afford a U.S. Attorney who will use his position in the Justice Department to push Mike Lee’s radical constitutional agenda. U.S. attorneys are supposed to be above partisanship, so there is no reason that a Republican cannot serve in that job with distinction. But Barlow’s close association with one of America’s most radical tenthers raises very serious questions about whether he is fit for a position of serious responsibility within the Justice Department.