From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --
Check out this Washington Post story about a court ruling that Justice Department says could cripple their investigations of members of Congress ...
Here's the top of the story:
By Susan Schmidt
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 21, 2007; A03
A little-noticed aspect of an appellate court decision could sharply limit investigations of members of Congress and hamper ongoing corruption probes, the Justice Department said this week in a motion seeking an emergency stay of the ruling.
The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was handed down in August in the case of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), but its effects complicate other investigations, including those stemming from the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.
Justice Department lawyers said in their motion that the appellate ruling represents an "unprecedented expansion" of the "speech or debate" clause of the Constitution, which was intended to protect legislators from intimidation under civil or criminal law. They said the decision calls into question the legality of investigative tools such as wiretapping, searches of home offices and voluntary interviews of congressional staffers.
All those methods have been employed by the department in ongoing investigations of current and former members of Congress, many of them over dealings with Abramoff. Among those under Justice Department investigation in connection with that matter are Reps. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) and Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), as well as former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and former senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.).
The ruling bars investigators from even "cursory exposure to legislative materials without a Member's consent," Justice Department attorneys said in their brief. ...