Home > IRS, Legal, Rights > House Oversight Committee joins SCOTUS in diminishing the Fifth Amendment

House Oversight Committee joins SCOTUS in diminishing the Fifth Amendment

June 28, 2013

AP_Documents_BillofRightsThe House Oversight & Government Reform Committee just voted on a resolution to declare  Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights during her last IRS hearing appearance. The Committee voted 22-17 to pass the resolution. This was a bad decision.

This is a topic I have blogged about before. As an American taxpayer I am quite pissed-off at Ms Lerner. I feel she should have been immediately fired for refusing to answer questions from the House Oversight Committee. By refusing to answer their questions she has decided the American people have no right to know what she as a public servant knows. I defer to my previous words on the subject of her employment:

It is hard to comprehend how she still has her job. As a high-level manager she is accountable for her actions and for those that work in her division. By choosing not to take accountability she has proven herself unfit as a manager and should be excused from her job immediately.

Due to labor regulations Ms Lerner is on paid administrative leave. It is mind-boggling that Ms Lerner could keep her job after such an action.

However whether Ms Lerner should keep her employment is not the topic of today’s vote in the House Oversight Committee. Rather today’s vote is about whether Ms Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment protected rights by providing a statement under oath before pleading the 5th. I feel the same on this subject as I did a little over one month ago: Don’t trample on the 5th Amendment going after Lerner. There are other paths that can be taken.

Representative Lynch (D-MA) provided a short testimony before the vote this morning. His testimony was a direct attack upon the way Representative Issa (R-CA) has handled this resolution. Lynch agreed that the ability of Congress to call witnesses for testimony is important. However it is imperative that Congress recognize and respect the Fifth Amendment rights of witnesses. Lynch also attacked Issa for not allowing debate. Many (including myself) thought this mornings vote would be debated. Issa allowed very little time for discussion and acted quite condescendingly to those that did.

Then Representative Horsford (D-NV) was allowed to speak briefly. He best summed up the situation when stating that he was not sent to DC by his constituents to take away the rights of citizens. Any small-government constitutional Republican should agree with Rep Horsford’s statement.

Sadly Rep Issa  has taken an anti-liberty approach going after Ms Lerner. There are other ways of investigating the IRS scandal that don’t involve trampling constitutionally protected rights. By taking these actions Rep Issa has joined SCOTUS in further diminishing Constitutionally protected Fifth Amendment rights. The sad irony of this situation is not lost one me. Two weeks ago SCOTUS decided silence before pleading the Fifth could be used against a person; now the House Oversight Committee has decided speaking before pleading the Fifth waives that right. A couple of more actions like that and a very important constitutionally protected right will be gone forever.

Going forward I can only hope the court sides with Ms Lerner and agrees that she did not waive her Fifth Amendment protected rights. Previously Rep Meehan (R-PA) mentioned Ms Lerner has worked as an attorney in the Justice Department. As such she understands the legal system well and I give her a good chance of getting the House Oversight Committee’s resolution declared invalid. Its ironic, Rep Issa has left me in the position to cheer on a government bureaucrat I feel has acted immoral. If only Issa had taken a true constitutional Republican approach…

  1. July 17, 2013 at 4:12 pm

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