Regarding Lois Lerner, who does the Bill of Rights protect?

posted at 4:01 pm on May 25, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

We’ve been covering the Lois Lerner saga for you wall to wall this month, up to and including the paid vacation she received in exchange for collectively flipping us all the bird, so there’s no need for much of a recap to bring you up to date. But the fact that she chose to invoke her fifth amendment rights – and even more so, the way in which she did it – have provided a lot of food for thought. From the moment Lerner essentially performed her own version of the Otter Defense from Animal House and walked out on a congressional committee, I began seeing two distinct schools of thought emerging. For my money, it seemed to amount to a tacit admission of guilt, or at least intentionally keeping the public and the government from information critical to the investigation of this scandal. But others were quick to leap to her defense, or that of anyone who does this. Among the latter group was Doug Mataconis, who I’ve been debating on this subject for several days.

As things stand right now, I have no idea what Ms. Lerner’s culpability in this matter might be, or indeed whether there were any crimes actually committed at all. That’s what an investigation is for. At the same time, it is Congress’s job to find out what happened, and why, both as part of its role as the oversight body of Executive agencies like the IRS and to determine whether changes to the law to prevent this from happening again might be necessary. That process will go forward. At the same time, though, people like Ms. Lerner are entitled to the same Constitutional protections that everyone else is, and it’s improper to assume wrongdoing just because they choose to exercise those rights.

It’s always risky business for us non-attorney, unwashed masses types to tangle with the experts when it comes to the constitution, but common sense would seem to indicate that something isn’t working as intended here. Let’s go back for a moment to what the fifth amendment actually says.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The key phrase we’re looking for here, of course, is,. “nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Doug cites all manner of case history where courts have had to rule on situations where people have taken the fifth and interpret it accordingly, but has this provision of the Constitution turned into some sort of panacea for the guilty? Let’s look at the elements of Lerner’s situation and the specifics of the amendment.

Was she “compelled in a criminal case?” Well, she was compelled, as a subpoena was issued for her to appear and testify. But this isn’t a criminal case… at least not yet. It’s a congressional hearing. Lerner hasn’t even been charged with anything.

And in order to invoke the privilege, she would have to be avoiding a situation where she would be acting as “a witness against herself.” But by her own testimony – and yes, I think her opening statement was “testimony” since it was read into the record as part of this investigation and hearing – she has done nothing wrong, broken no laws and is as pure as the driven snow. If that’s the case, then she can not be found guilty of any charges, so no testimony she could offer would place her in jeopardy.

Is anyone else seeing the inherent contradiction here? And yet we are to be chastised if we draw a conclusion from her actions that she’s lying through her teeth and either is guilty of something or is intentionally withholding information which might help us clear things up and get to the bottom of the situation. Which leads me to the final, and larger question I began with.

The fifth amendment – and the Bill of Rights in general – serve an important function and the Founders were wise to provide these protections. They wanted to make sure that the individual who was innocent could not be railroaded by the massive power of the government. They also serve to reaffirm the fact that the government needs to make its case beyond a reasonable doubt before a jury of your peers if you are accused of something. You need not say a word in court, and may choose to remain mute and force them to prove that you are guilty. But what if you are guilty? Or what if you are not personally guilty but have knowledge which would help lead to the truth and resolution of a possible crime? Are you under no obligation to help?

In short, have we arrived at the point where the Bill of Rights is less about protecting the innocent than it is about making sure the guilty have the best chance of going free, providing they can afford a slick enough attorney? This entire situation with Ms. Lerner makes no sense to me at this point, and it really seems like the fifth amendment is being turned on its head. In the meantime, if Lois Lerner wants to turn in a better performance next time she visits with Congress, she should study this brief film.


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On all the scandals, this is what matters - the election was stolen, something enabled by both parties.

Schadenfreude on May 25, 2013 at 4:04 PM

The irony escapes the Thug in Chief.

Schadenfreude on May 25, 2013 at 4:06 PM

It’s not just the left that don’t know the US Constitution.

Would have been great if Issa would bone up on it before blowing an opportunity like this and watch it slip away.

Gowdy needs to take over as Chair.

katy on May 25, 2013 at 4:08 PM

The Fifth Amendment protects you from FORCED Self-Incrimination, not just Self-Incrimination. This is why you can’t be forced to take the stand in your criminal trial. Once you take the stand however, it is implied that you waved your rights.

Lois Lerner was forced, via subpoena, to testified before congress. It was hinted that she was going to “pled the fifth” and clam-up. However she did no such thing. Lois Lerner, under oath and without being forced to do so, said she did nothing wrong. This opens her up to cross-examination.

BigGator5 on May 25, 2013 at 4:21 PM

Lerner is an employee being asked questions about her job by the board of directors. Her refusal to cooperate is grounds for termination.

myiq2xu on May 25, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Lerner is as innocent as anyone not found guilty in a court of law. Granted, the presumption of innocence here strains credulity, but that’s not important. Good Lord, Nidal Malik Hasan is presumed innocent!

So yes, she gets to use the Fifth just like the rest of us.

PersonFromPorlock on May 25, 2013 at 4:28 PM

Congress is utilizing its oversight power on the Executive Branch to ensure that the laws it has passed are being properly executed.

Lois Lerner, in her capacity of functioning within the constraints of the laws passed by Congress, is answerable for her execution of such laws.

That is what such hearings are about and are a standard, every day procedure, performed so often in so many hearings that we lose track of all of them. It is only when there is suspected wrong-doing that any of these hearings get attention.

If Lois Lerner thinks she has properly executed her powers as given within the law created by Congress then she cannot exercise her 5th Amendment right as she is not being charged with anything and is, indeed, part of the Executive Branch upon which Congress has oversight power. By taking the 5th she is indicating that she suspects that there is wrong-doing or that her actions may be misconstrued as wrong-doing… yet she proclaims her innocence and should have no qualms about detailing her past actions to Congress.

Really how can she take the 5th? If what she did is prosecutable that will be determined AFTER the Congressional oversight power has been exercised. You do not get to hide wrongdoing when utilizing Congressionally delegated powers by law, but determination of prosecutable wrong-doing is left up to… a prosecutor. Blocking Congress in its oversight power is a no-no as Lois Lerner has accepted an Oath of Office to uphold and defend the US Constitution and the laws created by Congress. We aren’t talking about her PERSONAL capacity here but her EXECUTIVE capacity as determined by law. This isn’t a marriage spat we are talking about, or a hitman, or a corner drug dealer: this is an agent of the US government who can improperly use the power of the government ITSELF to violate the civil rights of individuals. If the law has been so abused as to yield that then the law needs to be changed and NO ONE can hide that from Congress as it is the branch that MAKES THE LAW and those who Execute it are ANSWERABLE TO CONGRESS.

Sucks that Lerner took a PUBLIC OFFICE now, isn’t it?

She should have stayed a private harasser instead of trying to be a public one using the power of government to her own ends to curb the rights of citizens. Guess who she answers to for that? Congress FIRST. Yeah, there may be prosecutable stuff that comes up…she shouldn’t have done it from a PUBLIC POSITION now, should she? One that has autonomous oversight over it. She is a volunteer in her position to work for government and it is a privilege to SERVE THE PEOPLE by faithful execution of the law. If she has properly defended the Constitution and the laws then she CAN’T TAKE THE 5th and if she hasn’t the 5th is no protection for her PUBLIC CAPACITY as an executor of the law.

ajacksonian on May 25, 2013 at 4:29 PM

If Lerner can do this then everyone can refuse to testify before Congress on anything all of the time, simply by taking the 5th.

In that case we may as well dispense with Congressional hearings because they would become useless. If everyone refuses to testify what can a Congressional hearing accomplish? A Congressional subpoena becomes a useless piece of paper.

To make matters worse, if everyone is also allowed to make a statement like Lerner’s before taking the 5th, then everyone can similarly thumb their noses at Congress before taking the 5th.

It gets even worse when government employees cannot be fired for doing this.

The process becomes a mockery of Congressional oversight, with the Executive branch essentially telling Congress to shove it. No one in the Executive ever has to answer any questions from Congress if they do not want to do it.

farsighted on May 25, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Does the Fifth Amendment mean you get to keep full benefits and pay during the process? Most *citizens* (who aren’t bureaucrats, ahem) aren’t afforded the ability to retain pay and benefits while they are removed from their job, etc.

This is bullshit, frankly.

Midas on May 25, 2013 at 4:37 PM

If she is innocent and didn’t do anything wrong, them it’s someone else she’s protecting.

Do you get to plead the fifth to protect someone else (not your spouse)?

Alana on May 25, 2013 at 4:41 PM

The thing I think is most chilling is that there is no accountability! These thugs, including Lois, posture about and then go on to make gazillions. Nothing ever happens to them!

AnnaS on May 25, 2013 at 4:44 PM

The thing I think is most chilling is that there is no accountability! These thugs, including Lois, posture about and then go on to make gazillions. Nothing ever happens to them!

AnnaS on May 25, 2013 at 4:44 PM

See “Gorelick, Jaimie”…guess who she represents now? BP!

Del Dolemonte on May 25, 2013 at 4:49 PM

The IRS won’t allow people to claim the 5th amendment on their tax returns when they don’t want to give the IRS information on those returns. So, how is it that the IRS gets to take the 5th when they are targeting citizens? Huh?!

HiJack on May 25, 2013 at 4:52 PM

In a Civil trial I don’t think you can invoke the Fifth, because its not a Criminal trial.

Patricksp on May 25, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Lois Lerner was called before an Congressional oversight hearing as an IRS official. There was no presumption that she had committed a crime because this administration has stonewalled and lied enough we really don’t know what Lerner knows.

I don’t see where an administration official can get away with pleading the Fifth. Congress and the American public have a right to know exactly what was going on in Lerner’s branch of the IRS. She should be cited for Contempt of Congress if she goes back before this committee and tells them to eff off again.

Happy Nomad on May 25, 2013 at 4:53 PM

She is either lying about being innocent or using the 5th to protect someone else. Either way it is improper.

Put them all in jail. Let them eat each other.

petunia on May 25, 2013 at 4:54 PM

In a Civil trial I don’t think you can invoke the Fifth, because its not a Criminal trial.

Patricksp on May 25, 2013 at 4:52 PM

I am told you can invoke the 5th but the jury is allow to use that as evidence against you. So they know you are guilty of something, but not exactly what.

petunia on May 25, 2013 at 4:56 PM

The thing I think is most chilling is that there is no accountability! These thugs, including Lois, posture about and then go on to make gazillions. Nothing ever happens to them!

AnnaS on May 25, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Yeah, I think Miller’s testimony was even more chilling. Nothing partisan about targeting conservative groups (he recanted that gem in front of a Senate panel later). Huh? There’s a need for a whole lot of accountabilty in the Executive Branch these days. The IRS has been turned into the rat-eared coward’s personal hit squad. The State Department has been taken over by European socialists. Defense is being run by political hacks more interested in social engineering and pushing homosexuality as normal instead of protecting the nation. ICE deliberately looks the other way when it comes to the illegals. The FBI let the Tsarnaev brothers kill because it was considered wrong to profile Muslims as terrorists (the rat-eared coward actually claims we haven’t had a domestic terror attack since 9/11/01).

In short we need to clean house. Mostly Democrats but also Quislings like McCain, Graham, and (sadly) Rubio.

Happy Nomad on May 25, 2013 at 5:00 PM

The bill of rights is to protect the citizens of the United States. Lerner is an employee of the people, working for the government. She attacked the citizens therefore she should not be protected by the bill of rights, since she attacked our rights. Throw here and her bosses into jail for life.

stephana on May 25, 2013 at 5:05 PM

If we are to view this as a work place scenario, by refusing to answer questions in a congressional oversight hearing Lerner should be terminated on grounds of insubordination. I am assuming that one of her duties as the director of the tax exempt organizations division is to answer questions addressed to her by congress. If she is unwilling to answer those questions, then she is refusing to perform her job.

HarryBackside on May 25, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Lerner would probably be better served by invoking her First Amendment rather than Fifth Amendment rights, and claim that Congress has no authority to compel her to speak on the grounds that:

Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech

She’d be well served by this passage since it states that Congress can’t abridge a person’s “freedom” of speech, rather than just speech. That would ostensibly imply that she has the freedom (read: right) to remain mum, and Congress can’t do a damn thing about it.

That said, I’m all for tarring-and-feathering her. She’s as guilty as sin.

In short, have we arrived at the point where the Bill of Rights is less about protecting the innocent than it is about making sure the guilty have the best chance of going free, providing they can afford a slick enough attorney?

In a word: yes.

Stoic Patriot on May 25, 2013 at 5:14 PM

There is a brand new meme out there. No doubt started by the White House. That the IRS broke no laws and was correct in not only delaying, denying, and harassing these applicants, but was required to do so because to do otherwise would be unAmerican. The left never stops with its twisting of language and meaning. This meme is being repeated on NPR, at the WP, and virtually every left wing forum. Expect trial balloons tomorrow in major papers.

pat on May 25, 2013 at 5:25 PM

We are going to have to come to grips with the nothing is going to happen stage. People have caved and don’t care anymore.

We just have to hope we can beat Hitlery.

tomas on May 25, 2013 at 5:31 PM

If Lerner can do this then everyone can refuse to testify before Congress on anything all of the time, simply by taking the 5th.

In that case we may as well dispense with Congressional hearings because they would become useless. If everyone refuses to testify what can a Congressional hearing accomplish? A Congressional subpoena becomes a useless piece of paper.

To make matters worse, if everyone is also allowed to make a statement like Lerner’s before taking the 5th, then everyone can similarly thumb their noses at Congress before taking the 5th.

It gets even worse when government employees cannot be fired for doing this.

The process becomes a mockery of Congressional oversight, with the Executive branch essentially telling Congress to shove it. No one in the Executive ever has to answer any questions from Congress if they do not want to do it.

farsighted on May 25, 2013 at 4:34 PM

It occurs to me that Lerner’s performance may have been intended to do more than just save her own a$$ from prosecution somewhere down the road.

It may have had the more far-reaching goal of establishing a legal precedent for Executive Branch officials, in at least this Administration, to do just that; refuse to answer any questions from Congress.

The result being, as you state, to neuter the oversight function of the legislature.

Since I believe absolutely nothing in this Administration happens a capella (The One aside, there are just too many rabid control freaks in the stew), I am forced to conclude that Lerner’s performance is intended to end with a SCOTUS ruling. One that lets this President, and his minions, do as they damned well please and tell everyone else that it’s none of their damned business.

Even as they are throwing “everyone else” under the bus, into Gitmo, etc.

clear ether

eon

eon on May 25, 2013 at 5:33 PM

There is a brand new meme out there. No doubt started by the White House. That the IRS broke no laws and was correct in not only delaying, denying, and harassing these applicants, but was required to do so because to do otherwise would be unAmerican.

pat on May 25, 2013 at 5:25 PM

That’s not going to get a lot of traction with the public. For one thing, the facts don’t bear out that meme. There is an inherent mistrust of the IRS anyway. And finally, the fact of the matter is that an investigation is required. Whether it is before a Congressional hearing or not we don’t know if laws were broken or if the IRS acted incorrectly. And the administration wants us to believe that we can take their word that they didn’t. Fat chance.

Happy Nomad on May 25, 2013 at 5:35 PM

There are inherent conflicts built into a system that recognizes individual rights and is tasked with adjudicating guilt. It is designed to avoid conviction of the innocent as well as permit the conviction of the guilty. Our system is designed to give priority to the protection of individuals’ rights. It’s fair to say the system permits some of the guilty to escape conviction in the effort to prevent the innocent from unjust conviction.

It isn’t perfect, but it can’t be. It is better than any any other system yet conceived and put into practice.

novaculus on May 25, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Lerner is as innocent as anyone not found guilty in a court of law. Granted, the presumption of innocence here strains credulity, but that’s not important. Good Lord, Nidal Malik Hasan is presumed innocent!

So yes, she gets to use the Fifth just like the rest of us.

PersonFromPorlock on May 25, 2013 at 4:28 PM

She testified that she had done nothing wrong, if so there is nothing to plead the fifth about.

However, I don’t know what you do for a living but if my company QA or audit inspectors call me before a board of inquiry and I refuse to answer I would be immediately terminated. If I’m asked a question by the EPA,FERC or NRC inspector and refuse to answer I get both myself and my company in trouble. She is no different, she isn’t a private citizen called before a congressional committee but an employee and they represent the public.

whbates on May 25, 2013 at 5:40 PM

There are inherent conflicts built into a system that recognizes individual rights and is tasked with adjudicating guilt. It is designed to avoid conviction of the innocent as well as permit the conviction of the guilty. Our system is designed to give priority to the protection of individuals’ rights. It’s fair to say the system permits some of the guilty to escape conviction in the effort to prevent the innocent from unjust conviction.

It isn’t perfect, but it can’t be. It is better than any any other system yet conceived and put into practice.

novaculus on May 25, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Maybe I’m wrong but Congress can’t find her guilty of anything but contempt of Congress so it’s not a criminal case.

whbates on May 25, 2013 at 5:44 PM

At the same time, though, people like Ms. Lerner are entitled to the same Constitutional protections that everyone else is, and it’s improper to assume wrongdoing just because they choose to exercise those rights.

Whoa hold on a second, Doug. Does “everyone else” include Tea Party Groups trying to apply for tax exempt status like “everyone else” does? If so, where was their constitutional protection for their right to exercise their freedom of speech. They were punished and, decidedly not free, to do so without consequences from Ms. “I plead the 5th” Lerner. So, some freedoms are more equal than others, right bud??

ted c on May 25, 2013 at 5:44 PM

I know I am getting boring about this but it should not go unnoticed by the public that this woman has a history of doing this. She did the same thing to the Christian Coalition when she was with the FEC. The goal is to obstruct and force organization to use money in areas outside their desired mandate. This is all pretty rich from the party always crying about equal protection under the law. Obama didn’t like the Citizens United decision so he public trashes the Supreme Court and gets his minions to obstruct the best way he knows how, legal regulations and fees.

Cindy Munford on May 25, 2013 at 5:47 PM

If she is innocent and didn’t do anything wrong, them it’s someone else she’s protecting.

Do you get to plead the fifth to protect someone else (not your spouse)?

Alana on May 25, 2013 at 4:41 PM

That’s one of the trickier applications of the Fifth. The reason being that if, for instance, you know an acquaintance of yours is dealing stolen goods, you could be charged with aiding and abetting a felony for not turning them in. (Section 2923.03, Ohio Revised Code, Complicity.)

If you willingly participate, that falls under Conspiracy (2923.01) in Ohio.

Either way, if you made no “good faith” effort to inform the authorities of illegal activity you personally knew of, you could be charged with obstructing justice.

As such, pleading the Fifth in front of a grand jury (which Lerner’s situation was roughly equivalent to) is mainly a good way to make said GJ think that instead of being called as a witness, you probably should be indicted along with the prime suspect.

I can assure you that the prosecuting attorney, and very likely the sitting judge, will come to that conclusion, right quick.

cheers

eon

eon on May 25, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

“It’s always risky business for us non-attorney, unwashed masses types to tangle with the experts when it comes to the constitution”

You must be kidding.

Viator on May 25, 2013 at 5:52 PM

However, I don’t know what you do for a living but if my company QA or audit inspectors call me before a board of inquiry and I refuse to answer I would be immediately terminated. If I’m asked a question by the EPA,FERC or NRC inspector and refuse to answer I get both myself and my company in trouble. She is no different, she isn’t a private citizen called before a congressional committee but an employee and they represent the public.

whbates on May 25, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Oh, I agree it stinks on ice; but your company isn’t the US government and doesn’t have to abide by the Constitution. My personal feeling is that the Fifth is there to protect the people from the government and not the government from the people, but that’s not how it works.

Anyway, she probably blew her protection with her opening statement… at worst, they can give her immunity.

PersonFromPorlock on May 25, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Alternate Headline:

After denying thousands of people their First Amendment rights, government agent decides that the Bill of Rights actually does mean something by invoking the Fifth Amendment.

This is hypocrisy to the nth degree.

Theophile on May 25, 2013 at 5:57 PM

eon on May 25, 2013 at 5:49 PM

I’d be elated if she got fired and her pension was cut off or lowered. Is it too much to ask that we don’t actually have to pay these criminals with our own money to screw us? Rhetorical question, apparently the GSA proves that it is too much to ask.

Cindy Munford on May 25, 2013 at 6:01 PM

Lerner is as innocent as anyone not found guilty in a court of law. Granted, the presumption of innocence here strains credulity, but that’s not important. Good Lord, Nidal Malik Hasan is presumed innocent!

So yes, she gets to use the Fifth just like the rest of us.

PersonFromPorlock on May 25, 2013 at 4:28 PM

What court of law was she in, exactly?

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on May 25, 2013 at 6:02 PM

We stand upon our Constitutional rights as a means to crush yours!
You should be thanking us!

Now shut the f*ck up citizen and pay your taxes.
RT @IRS

ted c on May 25, 2013 at 6:02 PM

Oh yes! I remember the Department Of The Army Field Manual FM 21-13

You The Soldier—The primary function of the US Army soldier is to defend his country in order to make the world safe for IRS agents who otherwise would be in danger of being totally annihilated.

MaiDee on May 25, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Anyway, she probably blew her protection with her opening statement… at worst, they can give her immunity.

PersonFromPorlock on May 25, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Yes I agree, but as I said above, in a different post, Congress can’t convict her of anything but obstruction of Congress. Heck they can’t even fire her for that matter. They have a constitutional right, I’d say a requirement to oversee what the Executive branch is doing in running the country and carrying out the laws the make.

whbates on May 25, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Is there any good reason why a government employee should be permitted to keep their job upon taking the 5th like this?

rightmind on May 25, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Is anyone else seeing the inherent contradiction here? And yet we are to be chastised if we draw a conclusion from her actions that she’s lying through her teeth and either is guilty of something or is intentionally withholding information which might help us clear things up and get to the bottom of the situation.

That’s a weak argument, because anything you cay can and will be use against you. — especially if you are innocent, because their case will probably be weaker as a result.

If Lerner is as high up the org chart as this thing is going to go, she would be well advised to STFU, otherwise she’s the obvious fall guy.

If she’s dirty (and it seems), other evidence and testimony will damn her. Not surprising if it “leaks” from her superiors.

Kenosha Kid on May 25, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Is there any good reason why a government employee should be permitted to keep their job upon taking the 5th like this?

Nope. Not one.

hawkeye54 on May 25, 2013 at 6:10 PM

After denying thousands of people their First Amendment rights, government agent decides that the Bill of Rights actually does mean something by invoking the Fifth Amendment.

And it only applies to a favored few.

This is hypocrisy to the nth degree.

The Left knows not that word when applied to itself.

hawkeye54 on May 25, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Actually, you do have it wrong in this case. I’m no defender of Lerner, but as a lawyer, I can tell you that there is nothing more naive than believing that an innocent person has nothing to fear by testifying. Innocent people are convicted all the time, and often they can say things that can be used against them to convict them. A wrong phrase, word, an incorrect recollection, even the absolute truth, can be turned against an innocent person.

Also, the Fifth Amendment, and the rest of the Bill of Rights, are not designed just to benefit innocent people. We have decided it is wrong to force someone to convict himself, even if he is guilty as sin. It is the government’s burden to prove guilt.

Also, imagine how ludicrous it would be if we said that only innocent people could plead the Fifth. How would we decide if someone were innocent, so he could plead the Fifth? Hold a trial? Would he have to testify at the “Fifth Amendment” trial which determines whether he is innocent, so he doesn’t have to testify at the real trial?

Indeed, your view would make the Fifth Amendment a joke — you have the right not to testify against yourself, but if you don’t, that means you’re guilty. So you wouldn’t have a choice after all, and the Fifth Amendment would mean nothing.

woocane on May 25, 2013 at 6:22 PM

We crossed into a totalitarian state in 2009.

Reagan was wrong it is not a generation it is but a few months to lose our liberty and freedom.

jukin3 on May 25, 2013 at 6:48 PM

I know I am getting boring about this but it should not go unnoticed by the public that this woman has a history of doing this. She did the same thing to the Christian Coalition when she was with the FEC. The goal is to obstruct and force organization to use money in areas outside their desired mandate. This is all pretty rich from the party always crying about equal protection under the law. Obama didn’t like the Citizens United decision so he public trashes the Supreme Court and gets his minions to obstruct the best way he knows how, legal regulations and fees.
Cindy Munford on May 25, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Not boring at all. Keep repeating it, Cindy, until everyone gets it.

Basilsbest on May 25, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Indeed, your view would make the Fifth Amendment a joke — you have the right not to testify against yourself, but if you don’t, that means you’re guilty. So you wouldn’t have a choice after all, and the Fifth Amendment would mean nothing.

woocane on May 25, 2013 at 6:22 PM

She wasn’t in a criminal proceeding, and most people only are really saying she should have been terminated when she refused to answer questions about her job by a committee of congress, that by the way can’t convict her of anything but ask that she be charged with contempt of Congress. She is purposely obstructing an investigation.

whbates on May 25, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Thanks, eon.

Alana on May 25, 2013 at 7:17 PM

Alternate Headline:

After denying thousands of people their First Amendment rights, government agent decides that the Bill of Rights actually does mean something by invoking the Fifth Amendment.

This is hypocrisy to the nth degree.

Ahem, she also by her actions treated people differently before the law, would that not be a equal protection violation?

Canadian Imperialist Running Dog on May 25, 2013 at 7:20 PM

We crossed into a totalitarian state in 2009.

Reagan was wrong it is not a generation it is but a few months to lose our liberty and freedom.

jukin3 on May 25, 2013 at 6:48 PM

nope it was more than a generation about 3 in fact. Those from the 60′s those born under bush/clinton, and those that gave up their liberty after 9/11 and allowed Bush and Obama to expand the federal government to unheard of levels thereby ensuring our freedoms were easily taken. this has been a generational work in progress it goes back to the USSR formenting desent within the USA and birthing the 60′s radicals who then entered our schools, media and finally politcs. Obama is not the cause he is simply the end game.

unseen on May 25, 2013 at 7:22 PM

The answer to the dilemma of rights is dealt with in the coutroom scene inNaboth’s Vinyard, which may be read here. It’s one of Randolf Mason’s Uncle Abner stories, and they should be required reading for Conservatives. This scene always puts a lump in my throat.

njcommuter on May 25, 2013 at 7:22 PM

the correct response to someone taking the 5th on a congressional hearing is to convene a grand jury.

unseen on May 25, 2013 at 7:23 PM

I am told you can invoke the 5th but the jury is allow to use that as evidence against you. So they know you are guilty of something, but not exactly what.

petunia on May 25, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Wow.

Your eyes and ears must be noiseintelligence-cancelling.

Capitalist Hog on May 25, 2013 at 8:16 PM

the correct response to someone taking the 5th on a congressional hearing is to convene a grand jury.

unseen on May 25, 2013 at 7:23 PM

But, but Matlock never had to that.

Capitalist Hog on May 25, 2013 at 8:19 PM

The 5th amendment is there to protect us from you Ms. Lerner.

Mojave Mark on May 25, 2013 at 8:19 PM

That was ageist snark, not cool. I apologize to everybody who would have to ask me to speak up in person.

Capitalist Hog on May 25, 2013 at 8:20 PM

The 5th amendment is there to protect us from you Ms. Lerner.

Mojave Mark on May 25, 2013 at 8:19 PM

Clean up aisle 2016! Some toad just dropped another pile of crap.

Capitalist Hog on May 25, 2013 at 8:23 PM

Whom, Jazz. Whom.

unclesmrgol on May 25, 2013 at 9:52 PM

Was she “compelled in a criminal case?” Well, she was compelled, as a subpoena was issued for her to appear and testify. But this isn’t a criminal case… at least not yet. It’s a congressional hearing. Lerner hasn’t even been charged with anything.

I would submit that if one believes that one might be charged with something, one ought to take the 5th until such time as one’s competent legal advice says otherwise.

That said, taking the 5th here was really bad optics for the Obama Administration — it certainly puts the lie to it being the most transparent ever. That’s why they’ve in essence cashiered her with pay. Any place she manages would be a lightning rod of scrutiny.

unclesmrgol on May 25, 2013 at 9:56 PM

But this isn’t a criminal case… at least not yet. It’s a congressional hearing.

If it’s not a criminal case, then why would she be compelled to answer at all? I can tell anyone asking me questions to “talk to the hand”. I don’t need an Amendment in the Bill of Rights to grant* me that. It’s in the Bill of Rights because there was a single time when you *could* be compelled: as a witness in a trial. I would be really curious as to when testimony before Congress came to have the level of consequences that it now does.

Keep in mind that the 5th Amendment has also been held to mean that you can refuse to open your yap as a witness in someone else’s trial, if you think that saying something might be used as evidence against you concerning a crime – even though no one has been charged with that crime as of yet.

* Or to acknowledge it as already granted.

GWB on May 25, 2013 at 11:18 PM

The mere existence of the IRS is unconstitutional in and of itself, and you’re going to sit here and debate the merits of allowing an IRS employee to exercise her constitutional rights?

While her job is to trample on the rights of the American people every single day?

Really?

Riposte on May 26, 2013 at 5:42 AM

The mere existence of the IRS is unconstitutional in and of itself,

Riposte on May 26, 2013 at 5:42 AM

Really? On what did you base that insight?

GWB on May 26, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Government Barack Obama is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.

Old Ronald Reagan quote, just slightly edited.

There Goes the Neighborhood on May 29, 2013 at 7:31 PM