Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rep. Thomas Jefferson Johnson strikes back: bribery will get you nowhere

Interestingly, there is a precedent for congressional brib-ees being entitled to a get out of jail card: U.S. v. Johnson, 337 F.2d 180, discussed the case of a U.S. Rep from Maryland, Johnson, who accepted money to give a speech before the House defending two alleged criminals, for the purpose of getting the DoJ to drop charges against them. For a description of the Speech or Debate Clause and this case, see 78 Harv. L. Rev. 1473. Johnson was found not prosecutable because of the S or D clause, and the court decided that political disgrace and the criminal liability of the brib-ors was enough of a deterrent. Smile. This case is cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, Dennis v. United States, 384 U.S. 855, another prosecution of the brib-ors, and the court again did not decide whether prosecuting a congressional brib-ee was permitted. The later SupCt case, U.S. v. Brewster, 408 U.S. 501, also discusses these issues, though I've yet to read it.

The House will be holding hearings: "
RECKLESS JUSTICE: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?" Orin Kerr over at Volokh proposes these spluttering additional hearings:
"I BEG YOUR PARDON: Celebrating the vital role of Presidential pardons when members of Congress get into a wee bit of trouble with the law." Or how about this one: "JOB INSECURITY IN AMERICA: Do we really need to be reelected every two years, or can we be appointed for life like the Judges?"
The quality of debate is not high:
During his own briefing, [House Majority Leader John] Boehner joked with reporters that he was withholding his own strong reservations about the raid because of a staff request that he do so.
Anthropomorphification will get you nowhere:
“The institution has a right to protect itself against the executive branch going into our offices and violating what is the Speech and Debate Clause that essentially says, ‘That’s none of your business, executive branch,’” [House Minority Whip Steny] Hoyer said.
More name coincidences: does this seem like Eddie Murphy in The Distinguished Gentleman?

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