Thursday, July 12, 2007

At The Tipping Point

The US Constitution may be set to fade into history. The Executive Branch may permanently diminish the Legislative Branch, and the US after 200+ years will pass into the reign of a monarch.

Hunter, in this dkos diary, writes in bafflement

This morning, Harriet Miers refused to appear after being subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee. I don't mean she refused to answer certain questions -- I mean she, through the White House, declared herself immune to subpoena, period.

This is -- yet again -- a remarkable situation. Harriet Miers isn't merely refusing to answer certain questions under the rubric of executive privilege, the White House is asserting that her very person is immune to constitutional oversight, and that thus she may ignore congressional subpoenas in their entirety.

That's an astonishing claim, if for no other reason than it is flatly, unambiguously, and laughably wrong. It's not even a debatable statement, but one of those now-regular White House quasilegal statements that mocks well-known and well-established laws to such an extent that no other conclusion can be reached but that the White House legal team is willfully setting out to break laws just to demonstrate that they can.


This is astonishing. That this would have to be explained -- no, more than that, that this could even be argued -- is baffling. The only explanation is that the White House knows full well it is violating the law, and is counting on political actions by their own party to block prosecution of the transparent offense.

Harriet Miers, obviously, needs to be held in contempt of Congress. More to the point, since the Bush administration has indicated that the Department of Justice will as of now not enforce contempt charges brought by Congress, the House has no other option but to use its Constitutional powers of inherent contempt, and direct the Sergeant at Arms to enforce their subpoena by placing Miers in congressional custody.

Despite what others may say, this isn't a high stakes game. It isn't a "game" at all. The power of Congress to subpoena witnesses and have them appear is an absolute Constitutional power, and not one that can be ignored. It's high time for the White House legal team to understand where the boundaries of law are.


What Hunter is missing is that the White House is deliberately setting out to move the boundaries of the law, and is counting on Congressional Republicans, a conservative Supreme Court, the Democrats' meekness (demonstrated time and again) and the passiveness of the public to be successful.

When Congress proves to be unequal to the task of making Miers appear, the "absolute Constitutional power" to subpoena witnesses and have the appear will be broken, once and for all.


PS, Congressman Conyers understands the stakes, he is reported to have said this morning "If we do not enforce this subpoena, no one will ever have to come before this committee again."