More Good People

by digby

This is excellent news:

A Georgetown source forwards over an email from that school's administration, reporting that Professor Marty Lederman's class will be canceled -- because he's joining the Obama administration.

Lederman, another former Clinton Office of Legal Counsel lawyer, is perhaps the most prominent of several high-profile opponents of the Bush Administration's executive power claims joining Obama, a mark that he intends not just to change but to aggressively reverse Bush's moves on subjects like torture. With hires like Barron, Johnen, and Lederman, Obama is not just going back to Democratic lawyers: These are anti-Bush lawyers.

Lederman has been, in particular, an early and vocal critic of torture, and has suggested Bush Administration officials have committed specific crimes in that regard.

Anyone who's been following legal issues on the blogs over the past few years knows Lederman from his posts on Balkinization. Greenwald points out that Lederman will be in the OLC, which is even better. Like Glenn, I am much relieved that the administration has chosen people with a strong track record of principled criticism against the legal atrocities of the Bush years to go in and clean up John Yoo's mess.

But, as always, vigilance and critical observation is also required. There have been many examples of people with great reputations for stalwart independence and high ethical standards being persuaded to cut corners for the greater good of the government/department/country/president. (Michael Mukasey is one such person, if I recall.)

Obviously, I don't expect anyone in the Obama administration to be faced with the kind of choices that came from Cheney and Addington, so that's not the worry. But as Glenn points out, there is a lot of pressure from the permanent political establishment to hedge, and Obama has named some others to the DOJ who are in favor of doing just that.

I don't know Lederman by anything other than his writing, but if it indicates anything it indicates a man with an unerring commitment to the principles of the constitution. I don't expect any shennanigans and I certainly don't expect Marty Lederman to be writing legal opinions defending them, should anyone try. But you never know. Let's hope this is one area where principle will always be practiced over pragmatism. Some things just aren't negotiable.