Supreme Court Denies Review in the Jefferson Case

coolclips_arch0221.jpg In yet another loss for the Bush Administration in the case of accused Rep. William Jefferson, the United States Supreme Court today denied its appeal on the issue of the constitutionality of its raid of a congressional office.

The Court’s denial of review in U.S. v. Rayburn House Office Building Room 2113 (07-8160) is a major blow. The Court tends to take cases involving inter-branch disputes, particularly after the government has lost in a privilege claim — as here, with the Speech and Debate Clause. Previously, a three-judge panel ruled that papers seized by the FBI “exposed legislative material to the Executive and accordingly violated” the speech-or-debate clause. The panel ruled that the FBI is barred from “a location where legislative materials [are] inevitably to be found,” unless the member consents.Now, Justice is worried that the ruling will undermine its other corruption cases like those in the Abramoff scandal.
It is a self-inflicted wound. I testified at the congressional hearing after the Jefferson raid and explained why it was both facially unconstitutional and unnecessary. For my prior testimony on the Jefferson raid, click here.

Now, in a lasting gift from the Alberto Gonzales administration at Justice, the Justice Department is continuing to spend huge amounts of money and time to repair the damage done. If the Justice Department had simply followed past procedures, it could have secured the material and moved swiftly to trial. Instead, trying to prove that they can again act without restraint or limitations, they took the most thuggish possible approach and undermined a strong case for prosecution. For a prior column, click here.

The appeal to the Supreme Court may have been as moronic as the original raid. If they had succeeded, it was more likely that they would only expand on their losses on the appellate level. Indeed, conservatives may have helped protect the White House from itself. There remains a distinct need for adult supervision at the Bush Justice Department on such issues. Past presidents have avoided such fights and worked to avoid any court fight on such questions. This is part of a broader pattern of efforts to expand presidential authority vis-a-vis the other branches. From the detainee cases to the congressional subpoena cases, the White House has fought to create unchecked authority. Most such efforts have resulted in failures in court and, ironically, the creation of new precedent limiting presidential authority. Yet, like a bad gambler at Vegas, the President continues to make these plays.

In the case of the Jefferson raid, the White House triggered a constitutional crisis despite the fact that it could not cite any lack of cooperation by Congress. The House had proven extremely cooperative in the past investigation and was expected to continue to be cooperative under its Republican leadership. Even the Democrats had abandoned Jefferson.

The raid changed the entire picture and worked entirely to the advantage of Jefferson. Indeed, if the President were any more helpful to Jefferson, he would have to be placed under retainer by the defense team. The raid transformed Jefferson from a villain into a victim. It gave the defense an avenue for challenges and has cost copious amounts of money and time. It may constitute one of the most unmitigated blunders of all time for the Justice Department.

For the latest on the story, click here.

9 thoughts on “Supreme Court Denies Review in the Jefferson Case”

  1. “Scooter obviously didn’t do anything wrong other than get caught up in a snarky phony investigation where he was intentionally tripped up in the questioning and accused of giving false information.”

    Sounds very much like an impeachment trial of rather recent vintage. If one was bogus, both were bogus. If either was valid, both were valid.

  2. Judge Walton ruled that Plame was covert and that she was entitled to protection. As for her husband, I am aware of no proof to support the allegation made by the neo-cons that he ever jeopardized her position. Bill Jeffers argued that to Judge Walton but it also fell flat and Libby got his sentence and fine. Wishing for facts will not make them so.

  3. mespo: Re the man who disclosed her covert status? Wasn’t that her husband that listed her in who’ who? LOL.

    Valery Plame’s 5 minutes was up 4 1/2 minutes ago.

  4. Ker:

    In response to your inquiry, I checked on Valerie Plame. She is living well in her uncluttered life after years of service to her Country, and enjoying her reputation as a law abiding citizen without need for pardon or commutation from the Chief Executive of the Nation. I also have it on good authority that she lavishly spent her six figure book advance on liberal causes so that conservatives can gnash their teeth looking up her Amazon rank, while dreaming up ways to rehabilitate the man who,during war time, disclosed her covert status for political reasons that were inimical to the interests of the Country.

    Now, I ‘ve got one for you: How’s Scooter doing sans law license and good reputation?

  5. Ker:

    Funny, the Jury and Judge thought he did something wrong and convicted him of felonies.

  6. Scooter obviously didn’t do anything wrong other than get caught up in a snarky phony investigation where he was intentionally tripped up in the questioning and accused of giving false information.

    Say, where is Valery Plame today? Her book is about number 250,000 on Amazon and her husbands is number 1,300,000 something. I think between them they sold four dozen books.

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