For centuries monarchs defended the doctrine of the divine right of kings, a concept that vanished with the development of parliamentary systems limiting royal powers.
That doctrine is now being reasserted; this time by an heir to the parliamentary system – the United States Congress – whose leadership is up in arms over the FBI acting on a search warrant to enter the office of a member of the House caught taking a bribe.
Although evidence exists that Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., was accepting bribes, and had defied a legally issued subpoena – an action that led a federal judge to issue a warrant authorizing the FBI to search his office for the material – the royal members of the Congressional leadership are ranting that the search has violated their alleged constitutional rights.
They base their contention on Article 1, Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution that states: “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.”
Note that it makes no mention of any Constitutional privilege extending to the offices of members, or granting them immunity to investigations of wrongdoing by agencies of the executive branch charged with the enforcement of laws.
In short there’s not a damned thing in the Constitution that states that the offices of members of congress are immune from lawful searches authorized by members of the judiciary.
To claim otherwise is simply arrogance, a characteristic now common to members of Congress, regrettably from both parties. It wasn’t just the Democrat leader in the House making the specious claims about the separation of powers. Standing with the pitiful Nancy Pelosi was the Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, and GOP Senate leader Bill Frist.
Doesn’t Denny Hastert understand that he is being suckered by Pelosi? Doesn’t he recognize that by raising a ruckus about poor Rep. Jefferson being abused by the FBI he’s playing right into Pelosi’s hands by helping her transform Jefferson – evidently caught red-handed by the FBI of taking a $100,000 bribe – from a lawbreaker into a martyr persecuted by a GOP Justice Department?
Doesn’t he realize that he’s allowing the best defense the GOP has against Democrat charges that his party is nurturing a culture of corruption is the corruption of Democrats such as Jefferson? Is he blinded by the arrogance of power?
Arrogance, it seems, is contagious. We have Sen. John McCain, for example, haranguing his colleagues and members of his party about the outrageous immigration reform bill he and “Chappaquiddick” Teddy Kennedy are championing against the wishes of the majority of Republicans, and the 59 Republicans who voted a week ago to kill a bill that would have allowed offshore drilling for natural gas exploration in the midst of an energy crisis, and the eight Republicans voting to block an amendment that would have stopped illegal aliens from getting Social Security benefits they would receive as a result of having used false social security cards.
A minority of Republicans are making a majority of Republicans look like fools. Moreover, they have formed a majority by hooking up with the Democrats who want nothing more than to drive every single conservative Republican out of office.
The Senate majority is now a DemoRino majority – part Democrat and part Rino – Republicans in name only.
If this keeps up, a lot of Republicans are going to be job hunting after November. They are going to discover that it is not wise to go against the base that put them in office, and is up in arms over the flawed Senate immigration reform bill.
My Dad, Ronald Reagan, proclaimed the 11th Commandment – thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican. He couldn’t have foreseen what a minority of arrogant Republicans would someday do to his party. So, as his oldest son and conservative political heir, I feel entitled to now repeal the 11th Commandment.
©2006 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Cari Dawson Bartley email Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.