Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bipartisan Hypocrisy

For some reason, many congressional members have been very upset by the discovery of $100,000 of bribe money on ice (literally) in representative William Jefferson's freezer:

House leaders of both parties stood in rare election-year unanimity Wednesday demanding the FBI surrender documents it took and remove agents involved in the weekend raid of a congressman's office.

"The Justice Department must immediately return the papers it unconstitutionally seized," House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

The leaders said that the congressman, William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, should then cooperate with the investigation.

Earlier, Hastert had said any FBI agents involved "ought to be frozen out of that (case) just for the sake of the constitutional aspects of it."

This all seems a bit hypocritical. Glenn Reynolds explains why:

I say, search 'em all. Now. They must have something to hide, right? They certainly don't mind much more intrusive paramilitary raids on the rest of us, even though the Fourth Amendment provides a lot more reason to doubt the validity of those than the Speech and Debate Clause provides where Congressional searches are concerned...

The leadership -- of both parties -- should be ashamed of this stunt. They should remember that the Constitution forbids titles of nobility, too, despite their effort to transform their positions into something very much like that.

I side with Glenn in that legislators don't deserve any special privileges here. If there is reason to believe they are guilty of bribery or have anything else to hide, they need to be investigated. Congressional members are not "protected" from the ordinary way things work and must actually be held to an even higher standard.