Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Judge Rules Jefferson Office Search Was Legal

FBI Search of Jefferson's Office Constitutional, Judge Rules

By Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 11, 2006; Page A04

A federal judge in Washington ruled yesterday that the unprecedented FBI raid on Rep. William J. Jefferson's Capitol Hill office was constitutional, saying the government "demonstrated a compelling need to conduct the search" in the ongoing public corruption probe.

U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, in an anxiously awaited 28-page opinion, said politicians were not above the law, and he rejected arguments from the Louisiana Democrat that the search violated the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause, which protects speech and documents related to legislative activity.

"Congressman Jefferson's interpretation of the Speech or Debate privilege would have the effect of converting every congressional office into a taxpayer-subsidized sanctuary for crime," Hogan wrote, rejecting the request to return the seized materials.

Yesterday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had been a vocal critic of the raid, offered a measured response to the ruling.

Pelosi said in a statement that "no one is above the law" and that congressional members should not be allowed to use their offices to conceal criminal activity. But she added that "this particular search could have been conducted in a manner that fully protected the ability of the prosecutors to obtain the evidence needed to do their job while preserving constitutional principles."


Well that settles that. Jefferson still hasn't been charged although that may change now that the search has been ruled legal. What is important about this ruling is that it sets a legal precedent as this is the first ever search of a congressional rep's office.

Since Jefferson was taped while taking the bribe things aren't looking so good for him. Jefferson will face Republican Joe Lavigne in the 2006 mid-term election. I don't think the Dems will be banking on winning that district but given Tom Delay's post corruption allegation primary win anything is possible.