This is not a surprising ruling, given the obvious nature of the case:
While acknowledging the unprecedented nature of the F.B.I. search of Representative William J. Jefferson’s legislative offices, a federal judge ruled Monday that the seizure of records there was legal and did not violate the constitutional separation of powers between Congress and the executive branch.
The search, the first of a Congressional office, touched off a firestorm on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers joined in bipartisan protests to the Bush administration over the Justice Department’s decision to seek evidence of bribery on legislative ground. President Bush personally intervened and ordered the seized documents temporarily sealed.
The constitutional battle will not end with the decision Monday by Judge Thomas F. Hogan of Federal District Court. Mr. Jefferson’s lawyer, Robert F. Trout, quickly announced that he would appeal. And while Judge Hogan said the documents seized in an overnight raid May 20 and 21, including computer hard drives and boxes of records, could now be turned over to investigators, the defense is likely to seek a stay of that release.
In a statement announcing the appeal, Mr. Trout said: “A bipartisan group of House leaders joined us in court to argue that these procedures were in direct violation of the speech or debate clause of the Constitution, which the framers specifically designed to protect legislators from intimidation” by other branches of government.
I can’t decide whether this makes him an activist judge or a ‘law and order’ judge. I guess since those labels are based on political expediency, we will have to wait a few days to find out whether Rove and Co. think this decision is good or bad, and then we can get down to the heady work of trashing the judiciary.