Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Court Rules that the Jefferson Raid was Unconstitutional....Well, at Least Parts of it...

Just as Newt Gingrich said and as the rest of the GOP, as well as many Congressional Democrats agreed, the FBI raid on the office of La. Rep William Jefferson was declared unconstitutional.

Well, it didn’t declare the raid itself unconstitutional, just the collecting of legislative documents as evidence.

According to Matt Apuzo an Associated Press writer, “The FBI violated the Constitution when agents raided U.S. Rep. William Jefferson's office last year and viewed legislative documents in a corruption investigation, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

“A federal court ordered the Justice Department to return any legislative documents it seized from the Louisiana Democrat's office on Capitol Hill. The court did not order the return of all the documents seized in the raid and did not say whether prosecutors could use any of the records against Jefferson in their bribery case.

“Jefferson argued that the first-of-its-kind raid trampled congressional independence. The Constitution prohibits the executive branch from using its law enforcement powers to interfere with the lawmaking process. The Justice Department said that declaring the search unconstitutional would essentially prohibit the FBI from ever looking at a lawmaker's documents.

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected that claim. The court held that, while the search itself was constitutional, FBI agents crossed the line when they viewed every record in the office without giving Jefferson the chance to argue that some documents involved legislative business.”

None of this makes Jefferson any less guilty of blatant corruption and malfeasance and the court went to great lengths to limit the scope of its ruling to the LEGISLATIVE documents only. If they hadn't ALL the evidence gathered in that raid (including that $90,000 of cold, hard cash found in a freezer) would've been thrown out...and it wasn't.

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