Arrest Eric Holder
Monday, July 2, 2012
The House has voted overwhelmingly to hold Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for withholding documents on the Fast and Furious scandal, but where do we go from here? Not surprisingly, the Justice Department won’t prosecute Holder on the charge, and Barack Obama would only take action if the attorney general became a personal liability (and right now cutting him loose might be a liability). Yet there is a way for Congress to put bite in its bark.
It turns out that the House could encourage immediate cooperation by arresting Holder. Such a move would be based upon something called “inherent contempt,” a process that, writes The Washington Times, “is well-established by precedent, has been confirmed by multiple Supreme Court rulings, and is available to any Congress willing to force such a confrontation.” It was also recently alluded to by none other than Nancy Pelosi when she addressed what she considered Karl Rove’s contempt of Congress and said, “I could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day. I’m not kidding. There’s a prison here in the Capitol…. If we had spotted him in the Capitol, we could have arrested him.”
The problem, however, is that our Congress is just not that confrontational. As Constitution Project fellow Mort Rosenberg said, while inherent contempt is constitutional, “[t]he House is scared to death to use the inherent contempt power. …They’re scared to death because the courts have said…the way the contempt power is used is unseemly,” reports the Times.
“Unseemly.” That’s an interesting word. If you or I were held in contempt, would anyone bay the gendarmes and claim that shackling us would be “unseemly”? Actually, it would be downright humiliating. This is why people generally hide their faces from cameras when doing that ignominious walk to a squad car: it is, as it’s supposed to be, a bad experience. But it appears it is one that is only part of the common man’s experience.