The Coming Storm - Rep. William Jefferson - II

Heh..... Constitutionality of Jefferson raid questioned

Let's be clear, it is abudantly clear that Rep. William Jefferson is suspected of criminal activity. He is a US Representative. He is NOT, however above the law. For the FBI to obtain a warrant (which they did) to search his office has NOTHING to do with the Constitution.

What an unbelievable audacity this joker has.

Members of Congress, on both sides of the isle need to back off the "Thou treadest on me?" crap. Again, this has nothing to do with the separation of powers but about suspected criminal activity by a representative of the people, if he did wrong we DEMAND he be brought to justice. Period.

Redstate has a good take on this:

"Yesterday Speaker Hastert issued a statement questioning the constitutionality of the search:

The Founding Fathers were very careful to establish in the Constitution a Separation of Powers to protect Americans against the tyranny of any one branch of government. They were particularly concerned about limiting the power of the Executive Branch. Every Congressional Office contains certain Legislative Branch documents that are protected by the Constitution. This protection-as the Supreme Court has repeatedly held-is essential to guarantee the independence of the Legislative Branch. No matter how routine and non-controversial any individual Legislative Branch document might be, the principles of Separation of Powers, the independence of the Legislative Branch, and the protections afforded by the Speech or Debate clause of the Constitution must be respected in order to prevent overreaching and abuse of power by the Executive Branch.

And he seemingly threatens to clip the FBI’s wings in their ability to investigate our own native criminal class:
"Once I have more information about this raid made available to me, I have had an opportunity to carefully consider the long-term ramifications for the Legislative Branch of this action, and I have consulted with the appropriate bipartisan leaders of the House, I expect to seek a means to restore the delicate balance of power among the branches of government that the Founders intended."

Former Speaker Gingrich goes farther:

”There is no excuse for the FBI for the first time in history searching a congressional office and apparently doing so in total [dis]regard of due process as it relates to the legislative branch," former Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., wrote Sunday night in an e-mail to several members and aides obtained by CongressDaily. Gingrich was particularly critical of what he described as the executive branch trampling constitutional lines of authority.

"The president should respond accordingly and should discipline (probably fire) whoever exhibited this extraordinary violation," he wrote. "The protection of the legislative branch from the executive branch's policing powers is a fundamental principle which goes all the way back to the English Civil War," he added, describing the incident as "the most blatant violation of the constitutional separation of powers in my lifetime."

As much as I respect these two men, I think they are both shooting from the lip. The speech and debate clause only covers actions legislative acts. Now if either Speaker Hastert or former Speaker Gingrich are willing to defend accepting bribes as a legislative act, I’d give them and fair hearing and I’d hope they take the time out of their schedule to communicate those arguments to the attorneys for Jim Traficant and Duke Cunningham."

UPDATE: Hastert's opinion as reported in The Hill is simply wrong, and as such should like, "STFU".

UPDATE II: NRO's Andy McCarthy "My only slight departure from Byron's assessment is the observation that Jefferson is not just getting fair treatment; he is getting extraordinary treatment. Suggestions to the contrary are ridiculous, and the claim that there is a separation-of-powers problem here is frivolous. The congressmen and others making it are conducting themselves abysmally. At a time when Americans' regard for congress is at an all-time low, why would anyone want to get behind such low-life criminality?

The Constitution defines the immunity of members of Congress in the speech and debate clause (Art. I, 6), providing that members "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." (Italics mine.)
That's it.

They can be investigated and prosecuted just like anyone else, with two exceptions: (a) they presumptively may not be placed under arrest during a session of congress — although arrest is perfectly proper if a felony (or treason or breach of the peace) is involved; and (b) the evidence used to prosecute them cannot include anything contained in a speech or debate during a session. So the privilege against arrest is limited, and the privilege against being investigated is non-existent (anyone out there remember Abscam?)."

UPDATE IV: Pelosi calls for Jefferson to resign from the Ways and Means Committee, he tells her "respectfully" to stuff it!