Two senior Republicans want to set up an independent watchdog over the federal judiciary to police judges' acceptance of free trips or their possible financial interests with groups that could appear before them in court.
Dick Carelli, a spokesman for the federal courts, said Friday that the judiciary already is subject to congressional oversight and has internal mechanisms for policing itself.
Establishing an inspector general responsible to any entity outside the judicial branch, such as Congress, "would be a serious incursion into judicial independence," Carelli said.
The policy-making Judicial Conference of the United States, a 27-judge body whose presiding officer is the chief justice, went on the record in 1996 as "strongly opposing the creation of an IG in the judicial branch."
An unusual FBI raid of a Democratic congressman's office over the weekend prompted complaints yesterday from leaders in both parties, who said the tactic was unduly aggressive and may have breached the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.Sucks, don't it.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) expressed alarm at the raid. "The actions of the Justice Department in seeking and executing this warrant raise important Constitutional issues that go well beyond the specifics of this case," he said in a lengthy statement released last night.
"Insofar as I am aware, since the founding of our Republic 219 years ago, the Justice Department has never found it necessary to do what it did Saturday night, crossing this Separation of Powers line, in order to successfully prosecute corruption by Members of Congress," he said. "Nothing I have learned in the last 48 hours leads me to believe that there was any necessity to change the precedent established over those 219 years."