Separation of Powers Debate – It’s Coming

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Following on the heels of Speaker Dennis Hastert’s (R-IL) demand that the FBI return the documents seized from William Jefferson’s Congressional office, Jefferson’s lawyer has filed a motion to order the FBI to return the documents:

The congressman also asked that FBI and Justice Department attorneys be prohibited from reviewing the documents and that they be locked up until the judge acts on the motion.

Jefferson’s motion said the search violated “speech and debate” protections in the Constitution to insure the independence of lawmakers.

No matter which way that decision goes, it will be appealed, no doubt. I think Boehner was right when he said this one’s going all the way to the Supreme Court.

Update: John Bresnahan of Roll Call has more:

Asking Chief Judge Thomas Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to order “the return of all items seized from his office,” the motion argued that the unprecedented search of a Congressional office by federal agents violated the Speech or Debate Clause and separation of powers protections in the Constitution.

Jefferson also wants Hogan to block the Justice Department and FBI from any “further review or inspection of the seized items” and to instruct the “Filter Team” that is evaluating the materials taken to tell his legal team what electronic records were confiscated. The hard drive from Jefferson’s personal computer was seized as part of the FBI search, according to the Louisiana Democrat’s lawyers.

Jefferson also wants to see the redacted portions of the FBI’s affidavit that was used to justify the search.

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