Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Is Speaker Hastert Illiterate?

Hot Air On Tuesday the FBI raided the office of Rep. William Jefferson, (D-LA). He’s the Congressman caught on tape accepting a bribe. He’s also the Congressman who used a post-Katrina a href="">military search and rescue squad to get…something…from his own home in New Orleans. The FBI had requested documents from him for weeks, he hadn’t cooperated, so they raided him.

The House, led by Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert, has gone ballistic. Hastert’s screaming about Constitutional separation of powers (the FBI is under the executive branch), and even demanding that it return whatever it took from Jefferson’s office. The Democrats are right there with him, in a rare and ill-advised show of unity.

And they’re all nuts. As Right Wing News notes, the Constitution speaks clearly on this issue.

Moreover, trying to use the Constitution as a shield in this case is pure bunk. If you look at Article 6, Section 1 of the Constitution, it says:

“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.”
It’s sad that private citizens have to enlighten our rulers, but bribery is a felony. That being the case, Jefferson isn’t protected here. Read the Constitution–it is written in English, fellas. Furthermore, the Justice Dept got a federal court order before conducting the raid, so you have two branches involved in rooting out corruption in the third. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Sheesh. Makes me wonder (along with the entire blogosphere), what else are all those House members terrified the FBI might find?

Ramesh Ponnuru blogged I'm with JPod on the question of the wisdom of Hastert's intervention. In fact, I'm sort of attracted to the idea of regular, random raids of congressional offices. Maybe it can be part of the next ethics-reform bill?

Yahoo News reported "In the interest of upholding the high ethical standard of the House Democratic Caucus, I am writing to request your immediate resignation from the Ways and Means Committee," wrote House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in the one-sentence correspondence. The Louisiana Democrat was defiant. "With respect, I decline to do so," he wrote back to Pelosi."I will not give up a committee assignment that is so vital to New Orleans at this crucial time for any uncertain, long-term political strategy."
In other words I might be able to get some more graft for myself or my friends.
Earlier, House Speaker Dennis Hastert demanded that the FBI surrender documents it seized and remove agents involved in the weekend raid of Jefferson's office, under what lawmakers of both parties said were unconstitutional circumstances. "We think those materials ought to be returned," Hastert said, adding that the FBI agents involved "ought to be frozen out of that (case) just for the sake of the constitutional aspects of it."
What is unconstitutional about it? They had a warrent, and Congress is not above the law; their immunity is very limited. Why do they expect they have oversight responsibilities over the other two branches, but they are immune from action by the other two branches?
Gulf Coast Pundit blogged With all the screaming going on over on Capitol Hill, it makes you wonder how many more are trying to hide similiar situations. Our so-called lawmakers are claiming they are above the laws of the land.

ogresview blogged One problem -- the executive branch didn't do this -- both the judicial branch AND the executive branch agreed that there was evidence of a crime that had been committed -- a felony -- and that a sitting Congressman had committed the crime. It's called checks and balances and it appeared to work just right so far.

If this search is ruled invalid, then Congress will be utterly, completely, above the law. If a Congressman commits a murder in his offices, are the police allowed to investigate? Those who oppose this search are saying that yes, the Congressman's office are literally completely above the law and could not be searched.

When two branches of government agree that a felony may have been committed, by what right does Congress attempt to obstruct that investigation?

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