Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Not Knowing When To Quit

Has House Speaker Denny Hastert lost his bloody mind?

House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Sunday he may challenge a judge's order allowing FBI agents to examine documents seized at a Louisiana congressman's Capitol Hill office in a bribery probe.

Hastert said he believed Representative William Jefferson, D-LA, was "in big trouble" and that the House would not be joining in support of Jefferson himself. But he said the House separately might seek to make clear its position that the Justice Department cannot randomly and wantonly search lawmakers' offices.

"The gentleman from Louisiana is in big trouble, as far as I'm concerned. And we're not trying to protect him," said Hastert, R-IL.

"But there has to be a procedure for the Justice Department to come in and start just searching any congressman's office," he said. "We may take a fine line depending on how the negotiations are. There is a constitutional division there that we have to protect."

Hastert certainly was trying to protect Icebox Willie before it became day-glo obvious that the latter was a filthy crook. And he still is trying to protect the constitutionally-bogus means Icebox Willie tried to use to conceal his illegal bread & circuses. There's no such thing as "Legislative Privilege" that allows members of Congress to live above the law and turn their offices into de facto hideouts. The law cannot be debased into a protection mechanism for elected racketeers. That's what the federal ruling on the FBI's Capitol Hill raid clearly and unambiguously stated:

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.

As our readers are doubtless aware, I'm not a big fan of AmSpec's Quinn Hillyer and his relentless fratricidal attacks on members of his own party in Congress. But's difficult to quibble with the emblematic line of his post today:

To use a phrase from Archie Bunker, why won't Speaker Dennis Hastert just stifle himself?!?!?

A question that torments us all....

[h/t: CQ]