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Laying the groundwork for a pyrrhic victory

OK, it's time for me to put my "not a lawyer" hat on and toss out my completely unqualified opinion on the William Jefferson Clinton affair.

It is my understanding that the Capitol Police, answerable to Congress, has primary jurisdiction for Congress and its various buildings and institutions. But that is the strict limit of their authority.

Otherwise, the FBI has jurisdiction. By federal statute (passed by Congress), the FBI has original jurisdiction on any crime committed on federal property.

Congress might have an argument regarding the FBI's search (armed with a warrant) if they could argue that Jefferson's alleged corruption all took place in his office, or within the Capitol complex. But it apparently did not -- evidence has also been gathered from his home, and other places.

All Congress is doing, with all these protests and demands, is provoking the American people to ask just what the hell they are trying to hide. And while that might be a good strategy in court, where one has the presumption of innocence enforced by law, it won't do them a damned bit of good in the court of public opinion.

And come November, the learned solons will not be facing a single judge, or twelve jurors governed by the rules of jurisprudence, but by angry and disgusted voters who are not bound by any regulations or precedents.


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Comments (11)

"it won't do them a damned ... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

"it won't do them a damned bit of good in the court of public opinion." which is where its at now.
Hastert has s*****d the pooch with his idiotic statement that equates to them being above the law and its going to be a difficult perception to overcome in November.
Just imagine the howls of indignation if there was a 'no knock search' like the rest of the public is exposed to every day.

Here's a suggestion for how... (Below threshold)

Here's a suggestion for how to get further use out of the William Jefferson search warrant that has many in Congress crying foul and asserting that they are above the law.

Nail a copy on the door of Senator McCain's office. Make sure you add the following note:
This is how you eliminate corruption in government. Not by shredding the First Amendment, ASSHOLE.

Jay:All Congres... (Below threshold)
Truzenzuzex:

Jay:

All Congress is doing, with all these protests and demands, is provoking the American people to ask just what the hell they are trying to hide. And while that might be a good strategy in court, where one has the presumption of innocence enforced by law, it won't do them a damned bit of good in the court of public opinion.

That paragraph is spot on. Running around claiming that Congress is protected from execution of a valid search warrant in the office of a Congressman is so obviously absurd that it falls under the rubric of mental derrangement. I cannot begin to imagine the depth of sclerotic pique it must take to make such a claim under present circumstances.

I am seriously questioning Hastert's fitness to serve, not from an ethical standpoint, but from a mental health standpoint. I am becoming convinced that this guy is in need of some strong medication and maybe even a permanent change of scenery.

Best way to get the outrage... (Below threshold)
Davette:

Best way to get the outrage across is to write your Representatives and Senators.

To contact Speaker Hastert:

http://www.house.gov/hastert/contact.shtml

Below is the letter I sent to his office through the Congressional website.


Speaker Hastert:

I must tell you how disappointed I and many other conservatives are regarding your recent stand on the search warrant issued to the FBI by a judge for William Jefferson's office. By standing with Nancy Pelosi on this matter you are confirming the impression the majority of Americans have of endemic corruption running rampant through the halls of Congress.

I have been a strong supporter of conservative causes and applaud your stand on immigration, believing that after the WOT massive amounts of illegal immigrants are the greatest threat our country faces. But in taking the stand that Congress is above the law you are undoing all the good that your strong stand for border control has produced.

Please, please, for the country's sake and for the sake of the Republican party, rethink your position on a lawfully issued search warrant. If the lawyers involved had complied with previously requested documents, a search warrant would not have been necessary. Congress is not, and should not be, above the law. By taking the position that you and your comrades are you are sowing even more distrust among the electorate.

You guys are all failing to... (Below threshold)
geobandy:

You guys are all failing to understand how to properly interpret the Constitution.

Clearly, all members of Congress are protected by an absolute right of privacy which can be found in the penumbra cast by the speech and debate clause. Thus, where the Constitution says they can't be arrested for the content of a speech made in the legislative chamber, what it really means is that their offices are immune from search carried out pursuant to due process of law in pursuit of an investigation of their breach of the public trust.

geobandy:Clearl... (Below threshold)
Truzenzuzex:

geobandy:

Clearly, all members of Congress are protected by an absolute right of privacy which can be found in the penumbra cast by the speech and debate clause. Thus, where the Constitution says they can't be arrested for the content of a speech made in the legislative chamber, what it really means is that their offices are immune from search carried out pursuant to due process of law in pursuit of an investigation of their breach of the public trust.

It's the reincarnation of William O. Douglas!

Hey, Bill! How's it hangin? They got any of them "penumbras" where you came from?

Boy, does Denny Hastert need you right now.

geobandy,Either yo... (Below threshold)
JohnMc:

geobandy,

Either you are being rhortical otherwise, Horse Hockey!

Excerpted from Art. 1, Sec. 6:

"...They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place."

Hassert is so full of it on this issue he needs a little drubbing. Fact is given the chance, if both houses of congress could be brought up for a election in a current year, I would vote every damn incumbent out of office -- on principle alone. All 535 of them.

JohnMc makes a good point. ... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

JohnMc makes a good point. At the same time, we need to think really carefully about separation of powers.

1. Where does the Constitution draw the lines, and
2. Where should the line be drawn to prevent a disruption of the balance; i.e. we need to prevent an undue concentration of power in any branch to avoid tyranny.

geobandy, perhaps they'll f... (Below threshold)
Wethal:

geobandy, perhaps they'll follow the Ruth Ginsberg rule of jurisprudence. When asked about her habit of citing foreign law sources, she said, "I'll take enlightenment wherever I can get it."

I think the backtracking has started. Sen. John Warner of VA has already come out to say that the Congress can't be above the law when it comes to search warrants.

Once Hastert and Frist talk to some lawyers they may realize that Pelosi pulled a fast one. She managed to get attention away from a corrupt Dem Congressman who hid bribes in his freezer, and she did it with Republican help.

If this ticks off Hastert against the WH so he isn't inclined to compromise on immmigration (which recent comments hinted at), this might be to conservative benefit. And it's a long time to November.

Publicus said:1... (Below threshold)
Truzenzuzex:

Publicus said:

1. Where does the Constitution draw the lines, and
2. Where should the line be drawn to prevent a disruption of the balance; i.e. we need to prevent an undue concentration of power in any branch to avoid tyranny.

Well, in the instant case, the line seems pretty clear to me (albiet less to to others). Orrin Kerr has a pretty good post on it here.

Since both the executive and judicial branches are involved, it seems hard for tyranny to intrude. We have often seen the judicial and legislative branches act as a check on the executive. Judicial/executive branches acting as a check on the legislative seem less common to me, but I think this is a good example of just that.

What I mean by that is this - it seems to me that Hastert and his band of whiners are trying to set up a de-facto zone of exemption from the exercise of the constitutional power of the executive, in spite of the fact that that zone seems squarely within the scope of the executive's authority and jurisdiction. In my view, Hastert's actions are a power grab, not the administration's. The fact that it has never been done before is completely irrelevant, except as a historical curiosity.

Wethal,What this r... (Below threshold)
JohnMc:

Wethal,

What this really shows is a lack of understanding of the Constitution that the Members of Congress should know by heart. Had Haserett memorized that document, then he would not have been duped. He would have known that clearly a Felony investigation was in play and that the Framers SPECIFICALLY exempted that kind of behavior from cause for arrest. What a Maroon.

Which brings me to my next POV. Hasseret has laid on the ground that procedure trumps law in his silly ass statement that no congressional office has been searched in 219 years. He fails to observe the fact that it has not been necessary to do so becuase the previous occuptants of the halls of Congress have conducted themselves with honorable intentions that did not make it necessary. But then arrogance tends to imbue one with not understanding some simple truths. As the old saw goes -- pride before the fall....




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