« Gray Lady's Editors Continue Spinning For North Korea | Main | The Hillary-Gregory Connection To The Pardons »
The FBI raid on William Jefferson's Congressional offices did not violate the law, a federal judge has ruled, and denied an effort by Congress to force the FBI to return materials that they had subpoenaed earlier. Judge Thomas Hogan rejected arguments that such efforts constituted an offense against the balance of power and accused Congress of trying to turn Capitol Hill into a "sanctuary":
Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan said members of Congress are not above the law. He rejected requests from lawmakers and Democratic Rep. William Jefferson to return material seized by the FBI in a May 20-21 search of Jefferson's office.
In a 28-page opinion, Hogan dismissed arguments that the first-ever raid on a congressman's office violated the Constitution's protections against intimidation of elected officials.
Jefferson's theory of legislative privilege "would have the effect of converting every congressional office into a taxpayer-subsidized sanctuary for crime," the judge said.
Hogan acknowledged the "unprecedented" nature of the case but said "a Member of Congress is generally bound to the operation of the criminal laws as are ordinary persons."
Bravp, Judge Hogan! Western concepts of law and privilege have continuously evolved to make lawmakers more accountable for their actions, not less, and Hogan has added to almost a millenium of jurisprudence on this point. The efforts by Dennis Hastert and Nancy Pelosi to claim a legislative privilege against subpoenas and (especially) search warrants had no basis in law or political thought from the beginning. Now they both can have this harsh judgment sit on their records as public servants who thought somehow that they had a waiver from subpoenas and search warrants.
Hogan added some choice words for those seeking to carve out such an immunity for themselves:
"The power to determine the scope of one's own privilege is not available to any other person, including members of the co-equal branches of government: federal judges ... or the President of the United States," the judge said.
That's gonna leave a mark.
So what now? The materials seized by the FBI had been held in limbo by a presidential order until either the DoJ and Congress could reach an accommodation, or Hogan ruled on the lawsuit. Now that Hogan has shot it down and in such vivid terms, Congress could appeal -- but that does not mean that the President needs to extend his order keeping the material from investigators. The White House should now allow acccess to the confiscated records to the FBI so that they can perform their jobs and so that the investigation of Jefferson can proceed apace.
Will Congress appeal Hogan's decision? I would doubt it under normal conditions, but then again, I still find it difficult to believe that they were dumb enough to go in front of a federal judge and argue that the body which issues all sorts of subpoenas to officials in the executive branch every session should somehow have an immunity to subpoenas and search warrants duly sworn out and approved by -- federal judges! Hastert, Pelosi, James Sensenbrenner, and all of the rest who vented their outrage at having to comply with federal warrants probably will not learn either the legal or political lessons that Hogan's decision communicates.
And if they're that stupid, then God bless, them, let's hear what the 4th District Court Of Appeals has to say about it.
UPDATE: The opinion has even more tough language for Congress. Page 23 of the opinion:
If there is any threat to the separation of powers here, it is not from the execution of a search warrant by one co-equal branch of government upon another, after the independent approval of the third separate, and co-equal branch. Rather, the principle of the separation of powers is threatened by the position that the Legislative Branch enjoys the unilateral and unreviewable power to invoke an absolute privilege, thus making it immune from the ordinary criminal process of a validly issued search warrant. This theory would allow Members of Congress to frustrate investigations into non-legislative criminal activities for which the Speech or Debate Clause clearly provides no protection from prosecution.
That's going to leave a mark, too.
UPDATE: The judge emphasized the search warrant over the subpoena, and I adjusted my point above to emphasize that -- but let's not forget it all started with the subpoena that Jefferson ignored.Sphere It View blog reactions
TrackBack URL for this entry is
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Judge: Jefferson Raid Completely Legal:
Tracked on July 10, 2006 6:23 PM
» Culture of Corruption: Judge Rules Raid on Bribed Liberal Congressman William Jefferson’s office was LEGAL from Left Wing = Hate
From AP: Judge rules FBI raid on congressman’s office was legal By TONI LOCY Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — An FBI raid on a Louisiana congressman’s Capitol Hill office was legal, a federal judge ruled Monday. Chief U.... [Read More]
Tracked on July 10, 2006 6:51 PM
» FBI Raid On Jefferson's Office Ruled Legal from Stuck On Stupid
Much to the dismay of William Jefferson (Democrat- Louisiana) and his lawyer the sieged paperwork from his Congressional office is in the hands of prosecutors. This from Bloomberg: The U.S. Justice Department doesn't have to return evidence it seized d... [Read More]
Tracked on July 10, 2006 6:55 PM
» FBI Raid Of Congressman's Office Legal from Iowa Voice
Told you so: An FBI raid on a Louisiana congressman's Capitol Hill office was legal, a federal judge ruled Monday. Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan said members of Congress are not above the law. He rejected requests from lawmakers and Demo [Read More]
Tracked on July 10, 2006 8:02 PM
» Raid on William Jefferson Legal from Conservative Musings
Take note of Captain Ed's post on the ruling concerning the raid on William Jefferson's Congressional Office. U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan has ruled that members of Congress are not above the law. Captain Ed mentions the most damning part [Read More]
Tracked on July 10, 2006 8:34 PM
» “Read The Whole Thing”… from Strangely Silent: De Doc`s Ventures
Not just a good idea; it’s about the law. If there is any threat to the separation of powers here, it is not from the execution of a search warrant by one co-equal branch of government upon another, after the independent approval of the third sep... [Read More]
Tracked on July 10, 2006 8:41 PM
» Representative William Jefferson Watch: FBI Raid on Jefferson’s House Office Legal from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe (3rd L) and Washington Mayor AnthonyWilliams (2nd R) applaud after the unveiling of the statue of the third US president Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) in Paris. A statue of Jefferson who was the main author of his country... [Read More]
Tracked on July 10, 2006 10:10 PM
» Search On Jefferson Office Ruled Legal from Stop The ACLU
The FBI raid on Rep. Jefferson’s office was ruled completely legal today. Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan rejected requests from lawmakers and Rep. William Jefferson to return material seized by the FBI in a May 20-21 search of Jeffer... [Read More]
Tracked on July 10, 2006 10:57 PM
» “Judge: FBI raid on lawmaker’s office legal” from TruePress
As one would have expected; Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan rejected requests from lawmakers and Rep. William Jefferson to return material seized by the FBI in a May 20-21 search of Jefferson’s office. In a 28-page opinion, Hogan dismis... [Read More]
Tracked on July 12, 2006 2:57 PM
My Other Blog!
Comment Moderation Policy - Please Read!
Skin The Site
Des Moines Register
International Herald Tribune
The Weekly Standard
The New Republic
AP News (Yahoo! Headlines)
Guardian Unlimited (UK)
New York Times
Los Angeles Times
- dave on Another National Health Care System Horror Story
- brooklyn on Hillary Not Hsu Happy
- rbj on Hillary Not Hsu Happy
- Robin S on Requiem For A Betrayed Hero
- Ken on Hillary Not Hsu Happy
- Robin S. on Requiem For A Betrayed Hero
- RBMN on Hillary Not Hsu Happy
- NoDonkey on Another National Health Care System Horror Story
- Robin Munn on Fred Thompson Interview Transcript
- filistro on When Exactly Did Art Die?
Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!