Appeals Court: Raid on Jefferson’s Office Violated Constitution

Posted August 3, 2007 at 9:48am

A federal appeals court has ruled that the FBI’s May 20, 2006, raid of Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-La.) office in the Rayburn House Office Building violated the Constitution’s Speech or Debate clause because it allowed the executive branch to review materials that were part of the legislative process. The court ruled that Jefferson has a right to demand that the government return those items that he can demonstrate would be covered by the Speech or Debate clause, which protects Members from prosecution for things they say in pursuit of their legislative activity. Jefferson was indicted by the Justice Department in June for allegedly accepting bribes to help a private telecommunications firm obtain government contracts in Africa. The ruling on the search does not invalidate that indictment. — Paul Singer