Two-Tiered Justice

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

From today’s Congressional Quarterly (sorry, no link):

Congress should be afforded the same legal protection against sweeping searches by the Justice Department as members of the news media, House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., said at a hearing Tuesday, announcing that he is drafting legislation to bolster the constitutional rights he believes the FBI violated when it raided a Democratic congressional office earlier this month.

[…]

Lawmakers clarified they were not protesting the efforts of the Justice Department to pursue a criminal case against Jefferson, but rather the methods employed to get the material from his congressional office.

The raid began at dinnertime, with the FBI agents, search warrant in hand, demanding the U.S Capitol Police open the door to Jefferson’s office on the first floor of the Rayburn building.

“They told the Capitol Police that they were going to break down the doors if they did not stand aside and let them in,” said Committee ranking member John Conyers Jr., D-Mich. “That is an act of tremendous violence that goes way across the line.”

Welcome to the life of a U.S. citizen, congressman. Thanks to your policies, dozens of them have the doors to their homes broken down every day. Many of them are innocent.

As Tim Lynch notes over at the Cato blog:

Some people may prefer a strict application of the law, across the board. Some may prefer a lenient application of the law, across the board. A case can be made for both. I also think a case can be made for strict application of the law as applied to the government, but a lenient application as applied to the people. But the least defensible position, it seems to me, is the one that dominates: Strict justice for the people, and leniency for the government.

Sensenbrenner wants to make the gap even wider.

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