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Democrat Rep. William “Bribe-Loc” Jefferson gets a reprieve

By Michelle Malkin  •  March 31, 2008 10:34 AM

Hey, remember corruptocrat William Jefferson? Looks like he’s won something of a reprieve–albeit temporary. I’m sure there are other members of Congress breathing a sigh of relief, too. Just in from the Supreme Court, via SCOTUSblog:

The Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear the Justice Department appeal seeking to restore the FBI’s full authority to search the offices of members of Congress under investigation for crime…

…The Court’s denial of review in U.S. v. Rayburn House Office Building Room 2113 (07-8160) left intact a ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court that gives members of the House and Senate some protection under the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause against criminal searches — even with a warrant — of their legislative offices. The specific search at issue involved the office of Rep. William Jefferson, Louisiana Democrat, who has since been charged with bribery and other federal crimes. The Justice Department appeal argued that the Circuit Court’s decision would seriously hamper probes of corruption and criminal conduct by lawmakers.

WSJ has more details:

Last August, a Washington-based U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a court order barring prosecutors from using evidence gathered in the office raid. When the government asked the D.C. Circuit to reconsider the stay, it voted 5-4 to leave the restrictions in place.

“Its effect is to critically undermine the executive branch’s ability to investigate and prosecute corrupt activity in an affecting the legislative branch,” U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement said in the Bush Administration’s appeal. Mr. Clement urged the Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court ruling. “Until it does so, investigations of corruption in the nation’s capital and elsewhere will be seriously and perhaps even fatally stymied.”

Rep. Jefferson, in a court brief, asked the high court to reject the appeal, arguing the raid followed inadequate procedures that “involved the compelled disclosure of legislative material to executive branch agents with no opportunity for the member to shield privileged material from view.”

A criminal trial in the bribery allegations against Rep. Jefferson was originally set to begin in February. The trial was delayed, however, while a federal appeals court considers whether grand jury testimony given by staffers against the congressman violated the U.S. Constitution.

Rep. Jefferson’s legal team has fought the bribery investigation and indictment by arguing the Speech and Debate Clause in the Constitution — which bars executive branch interference with legislative branch office functions — was violated during the FBI raid. Jefferson’s lawyers are citing the same section of the Constitution in fighting the grand jury testimony. Their arguments, however, were recently rejected by the federal judge presiding over the trial.

Oh, and by the way, where are the Democrats who will do and say the principled thing here. Hillary? Obama? Hello?:

Photoshop via Theodore’s World.