Favorite

Death of justice 

Did I mention that the Republicans had dealt a mortal blow to the principle of an independent and impartial federal judiciary in the Clinton years? Once the White House decided in the 1980s that the judiciary was key to the Republican Party's fortunes and began insisting, wherever it could, not merely on a conservative legal faith when it chose federal judges but rabid party allegiance, the time would inevitably come when politics would routinely supplant principle in the halls of justice. It arrived when an appellate panel that was picked for its partisanship removed the special prosecutor in the Whitewater investigations and replaced him with Kenneth W. Starr, a man with a famous animus toward President Clinton and a closetful of conflicts of interest. A score or more of court orders afterward sanctioned Starr's abuses and expanded his authority. But some are unpersuaded. What would they make of the second phase of Judge David Sentelle's supervision of the Clinton investigations? Sentelle, who named his daughter Reagan after the man who rewarded his political support with a judgeship in 1985, has chaired the three-judge panel named by Chief Justice William Rehnquist to supervise special prosecutor investigations since 1992 and picked Starr. Sentelle presides over the determination of who gets reimbursed for legal fees incurred when they were swept up innocently in independent counsel investigations. Remember that Presidents Reagan and Bush I had their share of independent counsels, which produced a number of indictments and convictions. Iran-Contra was the most famous. The independent counsel law permits reimbursement of legal fees to those who, it turned out, were innocent but had to hire legal help in the process. How would you guess Sentelle's men treated the requests first from Reagan, Bush and their friends and then the Clintons and the people who were caught up in one of those investigations? The Republicans regularly got their money and the Clintons and the scores of associates with rare exception were spurned. Reagan was awarded $562,111 to pay lawyers who represented him in the investigation that resulted in the conviction of his national security adviser and a deputy for running an illegal foreign operation and lying about it. Reagan didn't recall being told what his office was doing. President Bush was given $272,352 to pay lawyers who represented him in the investigation of his Christmas 1992 pardon of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and others indicted in Iran-Contra. Clinton and his wife submitted bills totaling $3.8 million associated with investigations that did not involve the Monica Lewinsky affair. Sentelle allowed a few thousand dollars for lawyers to review Starr's final report and denied the other 98 percent. Scores of others have received nothing or very little. Take the case of Bruce Lindsey of Little Rock, a close Clinton friend and White House adviser who was investigated by Starr and the FBI for about two years for checks he wrote to campaign workers as treasurer of Clinton's campaign for governor in 1990. Sentelle came up with a doctrine in 1994 for determining who among the innocents deserved to be reimbursed. If a U.S. attorney would have questioned a person if there had been no independent counsel law, he or she isn't entitled to be reimbursed. If they would not, reimbursement is allowed. Then he arbitrarily decided that no Justice Department attorney would have ever investigated Iran-Contra because no one had paid any attention to the federal law Reagan's office violated, so they were all reimbursed. He decided that Whitewater and the half-dozen other issues that triggered special prosecutor investigations in the Clinton years would have been investigated anyway by U.S. attorneys. Never mind that the Justice Department was investigating Iran-Contra when the special prosecutor was appointed and that a Republican U.S. attorney at Little Rock had decided Whitewater was not worth investigating. Never let facts get in the way. Even that was too brazen for Bruce Lindsey's case. Sentelle's panel concluded that, OK, Starr should have stopped pursuing Lindsey for the old Arkansas campaign after it was crystal clear that he had done nothing wrong. Sentelle decided they should have stopped after, say, 18 months and he allowed Lindsey $27,992.14 of the $245,000 he incurred. George W. Bush is loading up the courts with Sentelle clones. Two nominees to join Sentelle on the D.C. Court of Appeals, the nation's second highest court, deserve mention. Thomas W. Griffith was discovered to have been practicing law for years without a license - first in the district and now in Utah. But look, he meets the real test. He is a member in good standing of the Republican National Lawyers Association and he was the Republican lead counsel in the Senate impeachment proceedings - illegally, of course. Brett M. Kavanaugh, 38, has trifling experience in a court of law but he does claim to have helped write Starr's final report arguing for Bill Clinton's removal from office. And he had argued against executive privilege for Clinton and, as a staff secretary in Bush's office, argued for it for Bush. Perfect credentials.
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Glass houses

    Having gotten a deep security briefing and probably a confidential glimpse of our own vast cyberspying operation, Donald Trump is no longer pretty sure that the Kremlin didn't hack Democratic computers or employ other tactics to help his election.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • ACA and the GOP

    Congress and the new president in a matter of weeks will repeal big parts of the Affordable Care Act, at least nominally, but what will follow that wondrous event will not be the contentment that Republicans have long promised, but even more political tumult.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Religion as excuse upends Constitution

    Tirades over religious liberty since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages nationwide have awakened the ghost of James Madison, the author of the constitutional doctrine on the matter, and it isn't happy that his effort to protect religious inquiry in America is being corrupted.
    • Jul 9, 2015
  • Guns, God and gays

    Many more mass shootings like the one last week in Roseburg, Ore., will stain the future and no law will pass that might reduce the carnage. That is not a prediction but a fact of life that is immune even to Hillary Clinton.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • AEC dumps ALEC

    No matter which side of the battle over global warming you're on, that was blockbuster news last week. No, not the signing of the climate-change treaty that commits all of Earth's 195 nations to lowering their greenhouse-gas emissions and slowing the heating of the planet, but American Electric Power's announcement that it would no longer underwrite efforts to block renewable energy or federal smokestack controls in the United States.
    • Dec 17, 2015

Most Shared

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Glass houses

    Having gotten a deep security briefing and probably a confidential glimpse of our own vast cyberspying operation, Donald Trump is no longer pretty sure that the Kremlin didn't hack Democratic computers or employ other tactics to help his election.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • ACA and the GOP

    Congress and the new president in a matter of weeks will repeal big parts of the Affordable Care Act, at least nominally, but what will follow that wondrous event will not be the contentment that Republicans have long promised, but even more political tumult.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • A heart in this house

    Since Election Day, I have been at a loss as to how to direct my energy. I am spinning in circles.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: A heart in this house

    • The elections woke people up, a good thing and caused some people to feel insecure…

    • on January 20, 2017
  • Re: A heart in this house

    • Arkansas needs You.

    • on January 19, 2017
  • Re: A heart in this house

    • Autumn Tolbert, thank You. I met Rev. Barbour in Selma two years ago. A new…

    • on January 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation