Judge Mukasey has had a distinguished career of public service and private practice, supporting the rule of law for many years:
Michael B. Mukasey, of counsel to [Debevoise & Plimpton LLP], recently served as Attorney General of the United States, the nation’s chief law enforcement officer. As Attorney General from November 2007 to January 2009, he oversaw the U.S. Department of Justice and advised on critical issues of domestic and international law. Judge Mukasey joined Debevoise as a partner in the litigation practice in New York in February 2009, focusing his practice primarily on internal investigations, independent board reviews and corporate governance.
From 1988 to 2006, Judge Mukasey served as a district judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, becoming Chief Judge in 2000.
From 1972 to 1976, Judge Mukasey served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and as Chief of the Official Corruption Unit from 1975 to 1976. His practice consisted of criminal litigation on behalf of the government, including investigation and prosecution of narcotics, bank robbery, interstate theft, securities fraud, fraud on the government and bribery. From 1976 to 1987 and from 2006 to 2007 he was in private practice.Judge Mukasey wrote a few years ago in defense and praise of the exceptional nature of our system of separation of powers and federalism established by the Constitution:
Ours is the only nation on earth to define itself and the rights of its citizens based not on blood or land, but rather on adherence to a document: the Constitution. Moreover, that document was architected in large measure to protect those rights. Here I emphatically do not refer to the Bill of Rights – the first ten amendments – but rather to the structure of the government defined in the body of the Constitution, with powers of governance divided among the three branches, and, as to legislative powers, between the two Houses of Congress, so as to assure that interests would always be pitted against competing interests. That structure was put in place with explicit awareness, as Madison famously wrote in Federalist 51, that neither men outside government nor those inside it are angels, and thus governments are necessary to govern the former, and limits on government are necessary to control the latter; but as between the two, government is bottom up, not top down. . . .
What protects our rights as Americans is not their recitation in the first ten amendments to the Constitution, but rather the structure put in place in the body of the Constitution -- with specifically enumerated legislative powers lest the legislature overreach; and a president given “the executive power” – all of it – but compelled to swear allegiance to the Constitution and to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” lest he overreach. . . .
Neither judicial-legislative symbiosis, nor judicial parasitism, was foreseen by the Founders. In Federalist No. 78, Hamilton portrayed the judiciary as “the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution,” and possessed of a “natural feebleness” that left it in constant jeopardy from the other branches, at least so long as it remained separated from legislative and executive powers.
No rules, even those contained in the splendidly crafted Constitution, can determine their own application. The Constitution, even though it is responsible for so much of our exceptionalism, and for keeping our rights safe from infringement, is virtually never itself the subject of serious study in schools. It appears, at least to me, that more people are familiar with cases decided under the Constitution than with the Constitution itself. If what so defines us and sets us apart is to continue to do so, that is going to have to change. Failing such change, we may wake up to find that, like those who reside in the countries of the European Union, we are governed not from the bottom up, but from the top down.We are honored for Judge Mukasey to address the RNLA at the end of April, and we invite you to join us.