DOJ Seeks To Dismiss Contempt Suit Against Holder
The Department of Justice is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the House Oversight Committee over Attorney General Eric Holder’s refusal to turn over certain documents related to Operation Fast & Furious and over which the President claimed Executive Privilege:
The Justice Department has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit by the House oversight committee seeking to compel the Obama administration to release more internal records involving the botched gun-trafficking case known as Operation Fast and Furious.
The judiciary should play no role in a dispute like this one between the executive and legislative branches, the department said — one in which the White House has asserted executive privilege over its internal deliberations, and the House of Representatives has voted to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for refusing to comply with the committee’s demands.
“Disputes of this sort have arisen regularly since the founding,” the department said in a brief filed Monday night in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. “For just as long, these disputes have been resolved between the political branches through a constitutionally grounded system of negotiation, accommodation, and self-help.”
Referring to the wrangling between Congress and the administration, the agency’s brief says that the process of seeking accommodations “is political, and often disorderly and contentious, and the ultimate resolution often reflects a variety of considerations and compromises on both sides. But it is precisely the inherently political nature of the process of confrontation and resolution that makes it ill-suited for judicial review.”
Congressman Darrell Issa, the Chairman of the Committee has already responded to the motion:
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chair of the oversight committee who has led the push for documents, said that the response from the DOJ should trouble Americans who don’t believe the White House and federal government are above the law.
“In perpetuating a cover-up, through false and misleading statements that even the Justice Department’s own Inspector General found troubling, the Obama administration argued for months that it did not have to meet its legal obligations to a lawfully issued congressional subpoena,” Issa said in a written statement.
“Now, the Department is advancing arguments – already rejected by the federal judiciary – that our court system does not have jurisdiction to ensure accountability either,” Issa said.
It’s difficult to say how a Court might rule on this issue. It’s true that the Court’s have tended to stay out of inter-branch disputes, especially when those disputes are purely political, but that doesn’t mean that every dispute between the Legislative and Executive Branches is one that the Court’s will stay out of . In this case, we’re really dealing with something more akin to the kind of discovery dispute that develops during a civil trial than a political matter. Additionally, the President’s assertion of Executive Privilege may make it more likely that the Court will get involved. I’ll be interested to see what the Committee’s response is when it’s filed.
Here’s the Motion To Dismiss: