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May 24, 2006

Was The Raid On "Freezer Bill" Unconstitutional?

So now we have Hastert saying the raid by the FBI on "Freezer Bill" Jefferson's office was "unconstitutional"

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) told President Bush yesterday that he is concerned the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) raid on Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-La.) congressional office over the weekend was a direct violation of the Constitution.

Hastert raised concerns that the FBI’s unannounced seizure of congressional documents during a raid of Jefferson’s Rayburn office Saturday night violated the separation of powers between the two branches of government as they are defined by the Constitution...

...In the Speaker’s lengthy statement, Hastert complained that the seizure of legislative papers, no matter how innocuous, was a violation of the “the principles of Separation of Powers, the independence of the Legislative Branch, and the protections afforded by the Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution.”

Well, I'm no lawyer, which sadly means I take words to mean what they actually say. Here's the relevant clause of the Constitution:

Article 1, Section 6:

Section 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the United States. They 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.

He wasn't arrested on the floor or on his way to the floor. His office and house were searched as part of an investigation that has absolutely nothing to do with any "speech or debate" but rather an ongoing criminal case. Sorry, but all these false protests from lawmakers about how this is some 'gross violation' of the Constitution makes me want to search more offices. If he had been arrested or bodily searched right after or before giving some fiery anti-Chimpy speech from the House floor, then fine, I would agree that that would be clearly prohibited.

But scummy little bastards on the take need this wake up call.

Update: Michelle Malkin found his brand of bag.

Posted by Mr. Bingley at May 24, 2006 07:38 AM


What this really makes you wonder is what is Hastert's deal? Why is he making such a big deal out of this. Wonder what he has to hide.

Posted by: Cullen at May 24, 2006 08:44 AM

Yeah Cullen, that is what I am wondering. So much for open gov't.

Posted by: Crusader at May 24, 2006 08:48 AM

Ravenwood has a great line: "When I was in school, I was taught that we had a system of checks and balances. That Congress made the laws, while the Executive enforced the laws. I guess they don't teach that in private school."

Posted by: Ken Summers at May 24, 2006 09:58 AM

"Freezer Bill"

It is official. That's his nickname from this point forward.

Posted by: Lemuel Calhoon at May 24, 2006 10:04 AM

Hey, Lem! Welcome! It does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at May 24, 2006 10:13 AM

Cold. Hard. Cash.

Posted by: Dan Collins at May 24, 2006 10:32 AM

I don't see what the state of Johnny has to do with this story, Dan. ;)

Posted by: Cullen at May 24, 2006 10:57 AM

Yeah, Hastert is now on my list of Republicans I Wouldn't Mind Seeing Lose.

Posted by: KG at May 24, 2006 05:14 PM

Cullen: while I think Hastert is dead wrong on this, I don't draw conclusions of bad faith from it. If anyone's going to make such institutional arguments--idiotic and self-destructive though they surely are--it would be the Speaker on behalf of the House as a whole.

Posted by: Dave J at May 24, 2006 11:40 PM

That's true, Dave.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at May 25, 2006 07:20 AM