Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Regarding Jefferson's papers, which is more likely: congressional bribery or executive intimidation?

This is one realization I'm having, as I gradually come to regard this seizure with a bit more suspicion. It's true, of course, that Jefferson is likely as crooked as a dog's hind leg, but the question is whether, from an ex ante perspective, you think abuse of an institution's prerogatives is more likely to take place in the executive or the legislative branch, and which power has better mechanisms for keeping itself in check.

This is a hard case, because it's symmetric: it's easy to imagine a Rep being bribed, and it's easy to imagine a Pres intimidating opposition members.

So I'm starting to lean towards a separation of powers argument here, and the fact that a single Rep or Senator can be expelled according to U.S. Const. Article I, Section 5, while it's a lot trickier to discipline a president short of inter-branch nuclear war.

We'll see.

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