Friday, May 26, 2006

Follow Up On William Jefferson and the Saturday Night Raid

A follow up to the other day's post on William Jefferson and the inane separation of powers argument:

Following the news the past few days has helped me to understand the story a bit better. Eugene Volokh makes the point that this is an issue akin to that of an evidentiary privilege. It does make sense that certain documents relating to legislation and the legislative process should not be subject to executive branch scrutiny. Similar to a search of an attorney's office, impartial screeners need to be used in order to protect confidential information.

The real issue here seems to be that even though the screeners were independent of the prosecutors, they were still part of the executive branch. So all the fuss Congress is making is because they believe the screeners should have been from the legislative branch.

In my humble opinion, this seems to be a rather technical point, not a blatant abuse of power. As usual, reality doesn't quite match the outrage. Raising the separation of powers argument is still unbelievably dumb. Separation of powers applies to the functioning of the branches, and the sort of activities they are allowed to engage in, not to the privileges unique to each branch.


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