Cass Sunstein latest target for the anti-‘czar’ bunch

Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein is in line to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. But critics opposing Barack Obama's appointment of a series of 'czars' have Sunstein in their sights.

The same critics that successfully lobbied for the resignation of White House adviser Van Jones are now attacking Cass Sunstein, a prominent legal scholar and a professor at Harvard Law School. In January, the White House confirmed that Sunstein was in line to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which oversees privacy, information, and regulatory policy.

At the time, Sunstein was lauded by many conservatives, including the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal.

But in recent weeks, the appointment has come under heavy fire. One of the most outspoken Sunstein opponents is Glenn Beck, who spearheaded the drive to oust Van Jones. Using his hit Fox News show as a platform, Beck has excoriated Sunstein for -- among other perceived sins -- leftist views on animal rights, hunting, gun control, and economic policy (video below).

As David Weigel of The Washington Independent notes, the push against Sunstein coincides with a general conservative attack on Obama's appointment of a number of 'czars' -- high-powered advisors directly appointed by the president. Here's an excerpt from a July 30 Washington Post column by Republican Eric Cantor, the house whip:

To be sure, the appointment of a few special officers to play a constructive role in a given administration is nothing new. What is new is the elevation of so many czars, with so much authority on endless policy fronts. Vesting such broad authority in the hands of people not subjected to Senate confirmation and congressional oversight poses a grave threat to our system of checks and balances.

According to Beck and others, Sunstein's appointment to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs qualifies him as a "czar," and thus as a target. A new website,, argues that "President Barack Obama has nominated Cass Sunstein, a radical anti-hunting, anti-gun, animal rights law professor to be his 'regulatory czar'." The site, which selectively pulls from past Sunstein statements without offering any context, encourages readers to petition their senators to block Sunstein's appointment.

But many have warned that conservatives are picking the wrong fight. Law professor and Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds, who identifies himself as a libertarian, says Sunstein should be approved.

“Do I think Sunstein will push a hunting ban? No. Do I think he’s sympathetic to hunting, particularly? No," Reynolds told The Washington Independent. "But what Obama appointee is likely to be? As the Van Jones affair indicates, there are a lot of people worthy of more concern than Sunstein. If I were advising Republicans, I’d tell them to focus their attentions elsewhere.”

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