Tuesday, May 23, 2006
So what's a mere 219 years of legal history?
I'd almost think he was worried a Republican's office would be next, like he'd forgotten who's in charge of the FBI or something.
I have (1) quoted the Republican Speaker of the House expressing concern that the search of Congressman Jefferson's office may have been unconstitutional, and (2) quoted the Constitution to explain why he is concerned.
The American Constitution.
Not the Russian or Peruvian or Martian Constitution.
The American Constitution that every American lawmaker, service member, or judge takes an oath to uphold.
The American Constitution, hallowed by American blood, that right-wingers pretend to support but undermine, attack, weaken, and betray at every opportunity.
Have I said that Comgressman Jefferson's alleged crimes are in any way less than the alleged crimes of Tom DeLay?
I have not.
Have I said that Jefferson should be protected from arrest?
I have not.
In fact, there was a proper way to do the search. The FBI could have gone to the Capitol Police, who are not part of the Executive Branch, and presented them with the warrant. If the Capitol Police had done the search, and especially if they had notified the senior congressional leadership that it was happening, I doubt there would be any complaints.
Speaker Hastert's concern-- and I share it, though I share very little else-- is that Executive Branch should not encroach on the Legislative Branch.
That was how Caesar attained power and destroyed the Roman Republic with its freedoms forever.
Charles has the right sections of the constitution to explain why all of the congress and senate should be queasy about this. It looks like they can have the constitution pulled out from under them by the Bush junta and it comes as a bit of a surprise to them.
I'm all for crooked politicians getting arrested but I'm not in favor of the executive branch taking unconstitutional actions against another branch. Won't it be interesting to hear how our "originalists" on the Supreme Court go on these questions. If the poll numbers on Bush run this low they might go with Congress. Those jerks might be fascists but they know which side their bread is buttered on.
If they side with Bush and suspend even more of the constitution we are in for another stollen election.
One more theing. And it also says "...except treason, felony and breach of the peace,..". So taking a $100,000 is no longer a felony nor breach of peace? The section does not say they have to be found guilty, only in cases of felony.
Zaggs is such a person.
So, thank you Zaggs.
Has William Jefferson been actually charged with a felony?
He has not.
The prosecutor has shown us evidence to persuade us that Jefferson is guilty. But if the case were really good, he would have issued the indictment first. In fact, releasing the videotape to the public may have been a criminal act on its own. It certainly was an act contemptuous of our legal system.
At any rate, until the moment that Jefferson is actually charged, section I.6 holds.
The underlying problem is actually Separation of Powers, the reason for which I.6 exists. The historical problem is well known. During the Adams presidency, an out of control president used his powers as chief law enforcement officer to impose what amounted to a tyranny. Congressman Matthew Lyon actually served part of his year in prison purely because he was a political opponent of Adams.
People who know their American history, which I think we can safely say excludes Zaggs, are more concerned about preserving the independence of Congress from a tyrant than about catching a crook.
Next, there's the Fourth Amendment question. Zaggs assumes, incorrectly, that the only files in Jefferson's offices are those having to do with his personal business. In fact, there are very likely files that include: (a) letters from constituents complaining of graft and incompetence by contractors engaged in rebuilding New Orleans, (b) Democratic strategy letters, and (c) the personal files of his staffers, most of whom are doubtless completely unaware of his business dealings-- to list just a few examples of files that should have Fourth Amendment protection.
When the Executive branch which is involved in the corruption in rebuilding New Orleans can search the offices of a Congressman who might be investigating that corruption, there's a danger. The Bush Administration could have arranged to have the Capitol Hill Police do the search, with an FBI witness and witnesses from the Congress present. That would have been the right way to do this.
The fact they chose the wrong way suggests that the goal was to intimidate the Congress.
Now, I don't expect to change the mind of a person who comes to my blog to spew scorn.
But people should know that what is at issue here is not the guilt or innocence of one man.
It is whether we respect our Constitution and our laws, or whether it's simply convenient cover for the opinion we happen to hold today.
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