Last week, the FBI search the offices of a congressman under investigation for corruption. His name is Willian Jefferson. Hasert, the Speaker of the House was livid and decrid an abuse of power and invoked immunity. Many commentators have indicated that under British constitutional law- of which America follow- doesn't automatically confer parlamentary immunity. The crux is over the interpetation of public mischief. The same commentators cite Blackstone; according to his interpretation legislators can't invoke immunity whenever they've committed public mischief- a catch all term that can include corruption. It's a position that appears to be congruent with the British legal tradition.
Except that the federal government contravened the principle of subsidarity which in American political language is the separation of powers. Just because the FBI has the authourity to search the office of a federal legislator, doesn't mean that the FBI agents ought to exercise such powers tel quel as if the Congress were just another perp under federal investigation
At the very least, the FBI should've contacted the Sergeant at arms, the official in charge of the security and good functioning of the Congress, so that he could either escort the FBI agents and oblige the congressman and his staff to comply with a lawful order; or to execute the warrant with the FBI agents as witnesses. This lack of finesse is disturbing.
Calvarily ignoring the Legislature's competencies is a symptom of absolutism. It also exposes an annoying tone deafness on the part of the administration. However, legal the search is from a narrow point of law, there are still some constitutional formailities to follow no matter how symbolic.
Symbols matter since they express reality in a shorthanded manner that everyone easily grasps and rallies them. Polls alledgedly show popular disapproval over Hasert's reaction. Perhaps he exaggerated but it's still important to remind the executive that the legislature isn't the executive's creature.