The Senate is poised to take what is being called a “no confidence vote” on Attorney General Gonzales. The Senate Majority Leader appears to be unaware that this maneuver is at best constitutionally problematic, since while no confidence votes are all well and good in parliamentary systems, they have no place in our federal system. The Constitution provides for the Senate to advise and consent at the time of the Attorney General’s nomination, but nothing more. The only constitutionally-designated role for the legislature after that is impeachment. So the “no-confidence vote” is exactly what it has been called — a political stunt — and probably an extra-Constitutional one at that. The proper venue for senators to express their views of cabinet members is the one that in the past they have had no problem utilizing — the press conference.
Those interested in Senator Arlen Specter’s most recent discussion of the attorney general may wish to take a look at this Chicago Tribune story: