Wait, they can do What?!

I was headed to lunch in Old Town today, when I heard the craziest thing on the radio. Now, I realize that just because I heard it on the radio, it doesn’t automatically have to be true, but would Kojo Nnamdi really lie to me? I don’t think so. The subject in question was the contempt citations that the Judiciary Committee voted to issue for Josh Bolton and Harriet Miers.

The question is: Should these two be cited for contempt of Congress, it is likely that the charges will not be filed by the Executive Branch, but what about the idea of inherent contempt of Congress? By that authority, the chamber could consider Bolton and Miers in inherent contempt of Congress, send the Sergeant at Arms (who’s well compensated for the privilege) to detain the object of their ire, and bring them forth to the Capitol for a speedy trial and sentencing.

The last time this happened was in 1934, when the Postmaster General was tried by Congress and sentenced to 10 days incarceration in the DC Jail:…

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

Let me describe how that contempt trial proceeded, just in case the Committee truly wishes to continue down the course urged by Senator Specter. Some of these procedural steps are all too familiar to us from our recent impeachment trial. Unlike the impeachment trial, which was presided over by the Chief Justice, the Senate’s last contempt trial was presided over by Vice President John Nance Garner. The Vice President also swore in all witnesses, who appeared in before the Senate and testified in the well of the Senate. Members of the special committee and the respondents and their counsels were given desks and seats in the well of the Senate. Senators with questions, who were not members of the special committee, had to submit their questions in writing to the Vice President, who had the clerk read the questions to each witness. The Vice President ruled on any objection to a question if raised. Counsels for the respondents and the Senators from the special committee could examine, cross-examine and re-examine witnesses.

The contempt trial took about one week, and then the Senate met in closed session to deliberate on the matter. At the end of the trial, the Senate voted on resolutions to hold Postmaster General MacCracken in contempt of the Senate and for the Senate Sergeant at Arms to take him into custody to be held in a D.C. jail for 10 days. This resolution was considered by roll call vote and a majority was required for adoption.

The Postmaster appealed the verdict by requesting a writ of Habeas Corpus, but was denied by the Supreme Court, who said that Congress acted within their powers.

So, it’s entirely possible we could see an inherent contempt charge set for Josh Bolton and for Harriet Miers, though I doubt that the Democrats are ready for the kind of backlash that it would cause. The trial for the Postmaster took a week. Do you think it would only take a week to try Bolton and Miers? What would the sentence be? Also, do remember that the Senate President is currently Vice President Cheney. Would that really have the intended effect?

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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