Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Jefferson running out of wiggle room

It is being reported that Democratic Rep. William Jefferson has about run out of wiggle room in his attempts to declare himself (and other members of Congress) as being above the law.

From the AP

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 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.

"Congress' capacity to function effectively is not threatened by permitting congressional offices to be searched pursuant to validly issued search warrants," said Hogan, who had approved the FBI's request to conduct the overnight search of Jefferson's office.

The president's 45-day "cooling off period" ended Sunday with no compromise worked out but with assurances from the Justice Department that it would not seek to regain custody of the materials until Hogan ruled on Jefferson's request.

Because Hogan signed the search warrant authorizing the search, Jefferson's legal team was not surprised by his ruling upholding it.

"While a congressman is not above the law, the executive branch must also follow the law," said Jefferson's lawyer, Robert Trout. "We appreciate the consideration the judge accorded our motion for the return of the seized property, but we respectfully disagree with his conclusion, and we intend to appeal the ruling."

Hogan said a search warrant seeking material is very different than a subpoena seeking testimony.

"Jefferson may never be questioned regarding his legitimate legislative activities, is immune from civil or criminal liability for those activities, and no privileged material may ever be used against him in court," the judge wrote.

Good for this judge for doing the right, legal thing. Now I just need to obtain a list of those legislators that supported Jefferson in this attempt and make sure that none of them are in my districts, and if so, to vote them out of office (even if they are Republicans).


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