While three major scandals are exploding in Washington, the Obama administration is asking the courts to abolish Congress’s power to subpoena documents:
A U.S. Justice Department lawyer said on Wednesday that if a judge agreed to consider a Republican bid to get administration documents related to a botched operation against gun-trafficking it would prompt a flood of requests for courts to referee Washington political disputes.
President Barack Obama is resisting a congressional subpoena for documents related to how the administration responded to the revelation of the failed operation known as “Fast and Furious” on the U.S.- Mexican border. . .
Justice Department lawyer Ian Gershengorn told a hearing the matter was best left to the give-and-take of the U.S. government’s two elected branches, the president and Congress, and should not be a matter for the courts. . .
[House of Representatives lawyer Kerry] Kircher told Jackson that if she did not intervene, presidents could withhold documents from Congress at will with no consequence and thwart oversight of government agencies.
Kircher is exactly right. If the House has no recourse to the courts to enforce its subpoenas, then it has no subpoena power. That’s exactly what the Obama administration wants, now more than ever with the IRS scandal blooming. But it wasn’t so long ago that Democrats saw things the other way:
In a decision that now helps Republicans, U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled in 2008 that he did have the authority to enforce a subpoena by congressional Democrats in connection with the firing of nine U.S. attorneys.
(ASIDE: It’s funny to recall now what flimsy fare passed for a scandal during the Bush administration, isn’t it?)