Imperial Congress

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There’s something truly disturbing about a bipartisan gang of elected lawmakers arguing that congressional offices should have all the secrecy of an offshore Cayman Islands bank account, but that’s apparently how members feel about the institution:

In rare, election-year harmony, House Republican and Democratic leaders jointly demanded on Wednesday that the FBI return documents taken in a Capitol Hill raid that has quickly grown into a constitutional turf fight beyond party politics.

“The Justice Department must immediately return the papers it unconstitutionally seized,” House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.

Insapundit has a nice wrap up of the shaky legal grounds on which this contention is made.

There has been a lot of talk about overreach by the Bush Administration–military tribunals, Gitmo, NSA spying, and so on. I don’t mean to diminish any of those criticisms when I suggest that there is similar–and consitutionally just as damaging–overreach by members of Congress. Whether it’s former Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., allegedly approaching the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations to get oil for food contracts for a contributor (thus potentially undercutting President Bill Clinton’s Iraq policy), or individual members like Randy “Duke” Cunningham exercising the power of the purse individually through the earmarking process, or now the contention from the House leadership that members have the Constitutional right to ignore subpoenas and search warrants, it seems that members of Congress of both parties are failing the oath they take to defend the Constitution.

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