GOP rep: We’d have to look at ways to rein in the DOJ if they charge Zimmerman

posted at 2:41 pm on July 16, 2013 by Allahpundit

Via Larry O’Connor and Breitbart, skip to 6:20 for Rep. Andy Harris’s take on the trial. I think he’s blowing smoke about congressional action. For one thing, he doesn’t bring up the Zimmerman verdict; Larry and his co-host do, and Harris seems to end up scrambling to fit it into the GOP’s broader “Holder/DOJ gone rogue” point. I’m not sure what “reining in” the DOJ in response to their decision to charge would look like either. Holder’s (probably) not barred by double jeopardy, since federal charges are distinct from state ones. A hate-crimes indictment would be flimsy and transparently political, but normally we trust the public to punish the prosecutor and/or his boss for overreaching like that. To the extent that Harris is serious, presumably what he means is new hearings on the DOJ abusing its power of investigation to harass political enemies; see Andy McCarthy’s piece at the Corner yesterday about that, linking Holder’s vague threats of prosecuting Zimmerman to his treatment of James Rosen. I can imagine Boehner’s reaction, though, to being asked to stake GOP political capital on a showdown with the DOJ over George Zimmerman at a moment when the party’s desperate to “rebrand” with minority voters. The media outrage over Republican political meddling with prosecutorial independence would also be fragrant, even though the meddling would be aimed at blocking the prosecutor’s own illicit political agenda. Can’t believe the House leadership would let themselves come anywhere near this, especially since Zimmerman’s likely to be acquitted even if Holder does bring charges.

There’s a silver lining to the DOJ bringing federal charges if you’re a con-law junkie, though. It’ll generate some juicy debates over whether the new federal hate-crimes statute is constitutional and whether double jeopardy really does allow the feds to bring charges after a defendant’s been acquitted of a state charge. Here’s Politico on the former point:

When Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the East Room in October 2009, it was the first-ever inclusion of crimes based on sexual orientation — an issue so controversial it lingered in Congress for more than a decade — that grabbed the headlines.

But that addition wasn’t the only notable change to the law. The other was the removal of a longstanding requirement that such crimes have some connection to interstate commerce, or to “federally protected activities” such as voting or applying for federal benefits.

The decision to allow prosecutions without what lawyers call a “federal nexus” was an “extremely important” development, said a former Justice Department Civil Rights Division official Samuel Bagenstos.

“The problem federal prosecutors had pursuing hate crimes in the past was that the victim had to be involved in a federally protected activity,” said Bagenstos, now a law professor at the University of Michigan. “….We ended up arguing sometimes that walking on a public street was a federally protected activity.”

If there’s no federal nexus, how can there be a federal statute? Isn’t section two of the Thirteenth Amendment a sufficient nexus? That question might be coming for John “The mandate is a tax” Roberts and his conservative majority. As for double jeopardy, Orin Kerr quoted this passage from a recent Supreme Court petition last month at the Volokh Conspiracy:

Under the original meaning of the Double Jeopardy Clause, a prosecution by one sovereign barred subsequent prosecutions by all sovereigns. But the Court strayed from this original meaning when it adopted the doctrine of “dual sovereignty,” which permits prosecutions by multiple sovereigns. Criminal defendants thus now have less Double Jeopardy protection than they had at the Founding. This petition presents unequivocal historical evidence that dual sovereignty is inconsistent with the original meaning of the Double Jeopardy Clause.

The question presented is whether the Double Jeopardy Clause bars a state prosecution for a criminal offense when the defendant has previously been convicted of the same offense in federal court.

One big difference with Zimmerman’s situation, obviously, is that Holder wouldn’t be trying him for the same offense at the federal level that he was acquitted on at the state level. One was a murder/manslaughter case, the other would be a hate crime/civil rights case. Since the Florida jury found that Zimmerman acted with no animus toward Trayvon Martin, though, in acquitting him of second-degree murder, should that foreclose a federal hate-crimes prosecution? (How about the fact that Holder’s own police force found no evidence of racial bias?) At the very least, a court ruling requiring the DOJ to declare its intent to prosecute or not prosecute before the state proceedings begin would solve the problem of the feds holding the prospect of new charges over a defendant’s head as punishment if he happens to win at the state level. If Holder wanted to prosecute Zimmerman, he should have said so before the Florida trial got rolling. He had more than a year to investigate and come to a decision. Dragging this out now to torture the guy because he’s unhappy with the state verdict is, as McCarthy says, abusive.

Update: Speaking of congressional meddling in prosecutorial independence:

Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez is calling for Judiciary Committee hearings on the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Gutierrez wrote that the committee must hold hearings on the matter “as soon as possible.”

“When any child is gunned down and no one goes to jail, it is incumbent on lawmakers at the highest level of government to investigate whether justice has been done, whether the underlying law is just, and whether federal legislation could help avoid another tragic death like the death of Trayvon Martin,” Gutierrez wrote.

Second look at bills of attainder?


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Atty O’Mara & Co should politely, and in their best legalese, tell Gutierrez to go …. himself.

Another Drew on July 16, 2013 at 3:40 PM

So “New School” Miami slang for gay is “creepy”? Wow. I wonder what the phone calls and texts say. So for future reference, gays rank far down the leftist justice establishment list from blacks…

I hope Rachel can do a few more interviews to clear this up. Maybe she could testify if there is a civil suit?

oldroy on July 16, 2013 at 3:43 PM

I’d like the DOJ to investigate the hate crimes against Hispanics by Trayvon vigilantes. Hispanics’ civil rights are being violated.

Philly on July 16, 2013 at 3:43 PM

I’m sure it was subliminal… but interesting choice of words to sum up the gay bashing bit.

Turtle317 on July 16, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Not sure what ya mean.

The prison slang is in the hip hop culture.

The Gay Panic has been used in legal defense…the most notorious case was the Matthew Shepard Trial.

workingclass artist on July 16, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez is calling for Judiciary Committee hearings on the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Gutierrez wrote that the committee must hold hearings on the matter “as soon as possible.”

“When any child is gunned down and no one goes to jail, it is incumbent on lawmakers at the highest level of government to investigate whether justice has been done, whether the underlying law is just, and whether federal legislation could help avoid another tragic death like the death of Trayvon Martin,” Gutierrez wrote.

Seriously? SERIOUSLY? This guy is from Illinois and he said this with a straight face? WOW

gophergirl on July 16, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Yes, he’s serious. And here is the key bit at the end, just so everyone is clear where this Libtard wants the country to go:

There is no reason in a modern society to accept the sale, marketing, and widespread proliferation of guns as a means for killing other human beings and our laws should reflect that fact.”

In Leftie speak – get rid of guns in the public’s hands.

Patriot Vet on July 16, 2013 at 3:44 PM

SYG was NOT at issue in this trial. In Florida, SYG is a grant of immunity from criminal prosecution or civil liability for the use of deadly force during a justifiable self-defence. It is NOT an issue for the jury. In a hearing, a judge decides whether the defendant acted in self-defence. If he did, then there is no prosecution, no trial, and no jury deliberations.

Resist We Much on July 16, 2013 at 3:06 PM

However, we could argue that the outrage raised by the media may have provoked the state of Florida into ignoring SYG in order to persecute… er, prosecute Zimmerman. Remember, the media and the Feds have a little trouble understanding how those laws apply even to people who disagree with their political point of view.

Turtle317 on July 16, 2013 at 3:45 PM

What, then, does Gutierrez say about illegal aliens who rape/murder American children since he’s so concerned about law enforcement?

madmonkphotog on July 16, 2013 at 3:45 PM

So, do blacks go gunning for gay rapists in Chicago? Is that why there are so many deaths there?

oldroy on July 16, 2013 at 3:45 PM

The Gay Panic has been used in legal defense…the most notorious case was the Matthew Shepard Trial.

workingclass artist on July 16, 2013 at 3:43 PM

My apologies. I wasn’t clear I was trying to make a funny, but failed miserably at it. Something about how the agitators managed to “blow” it at the end.

I know. I’m just wrong and twisted that way.

Turtle317 on July 16, 2013 at 3:48 PM

And does “creepy azz” mean chubby gay rapist in Chicago slang also?

oldroy on July 16, 2013 at 3:48 PM

So, do blacks go gunning for gay rapists in Chicago? Is that why there are so many deaths there?

oldroy on July 16, 2013 at 3:45 PM

There’s been an uptick on Gay Bashing in Large Urban cities…and a lot of the perpetrators are Black Teenagers…especially in the summer.

It’s been blogged about…and yeah there’s a lot of these incidents in Chicago.

workingclass artist on July 16, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Ms. Jentill has raised important issues that we need to debate as a nation.

I believe in CWC and neighborhood watch but there has to be better precautions set in place to avoid tragedy.

If you are going to carry a firearm you should have some type of visible ID that shows you are not gay. It is irresponsible to eye or follow a young man without first identifying yourself as not gay. If you are gay it is irresponsible to carry a gun since a young man should be able to properly defend himself against possible gay rape.

I would like to know libfree’s take on this. I am open to any counter arguments and I don’t want any bigotry to be part of this equation. I am merely weighing the rights of young black men to walk home from a store in safety against ,what might be, a small inconvenience to the gay population. Maybe there is no simple answer to this tragedy. Either way, there needs to be more dialogue between African Americans and Homosexuals about SYG and CWC laws.

BoxHead1 on July 16, 2013 at 3:55 PM

The Gay Panic has been used in legal defense…the most notorious case was the Matthew Shepard Trial.

workingclass artist on July 16, 2013 at 3:43 PM

My apologies. I wasn’t clear I was trying to make a funny, but failed miserably at it. Something about how the agitators managed to “blow” it at the end.

I know. I’m just wrong and twisted that way.

Turtle317 on July 16, 2013 at 3:48 PM

*snicker*

Yeah…I missed that.

workingclass artist on July 16, 2013 at 3:57 PM

I wonder if the Log Cabin Republicans would have some input on all of this confront the gay rapist evidence that Rachel Jeantel was good enough to clarify?

oldroy on July 16, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Well Cruz is silent too.

But I’d expect Rubio to stand up for an amigo in his own state.

It’s weird.

workingclass artist on July 16, 2013 at 3:38 PM

They all seem to be hoping that this will quietly go away and the Sharpton and his minions see that as an opportunity to get louder.

Oh well. It’s the GOP.

kim roy on July 16, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Juan Williams should also clarify on Fox what it was that Rachel Jeantel really meant by “gay rapist that was going to get Trayvon’s brother”.

oldroy on July 16, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Cut their budget by $1 billion. No pay raises for five years.

That will get their attention.

patch on July 16, 2013 at 4:20 PM

SYG was NOT at issue in this trial. In Florida, SYG is a grant of immunity from criminal prosecution or civil liability for the use of deadly force during a justifiable self-defence. It is NOT an issue for the jury. In a hearing, a judge decides whether the defendant acted in self-defence. If he did, then there is no prosecution, no trial, and no jury deliberations.

Resist We Much on July 16, 2013 at 3:06 PM

UPDATE: I was incorrect in my previous post. Zimmerman’s defense never went SYG (even though the prosecution brought it up). As it turn out, it was strictly an act in self-defense.

Which leaves the fact that there was even a trial squarely on the frenzied, libelous media’s shoulders.

Turtle317 on July 16, 2013 at 4:29 PM

I will believe it when I see that this isn’t just to placate the currently upset parties. The Obama WH can’t really afford any more harassment charges or individual citizens. His pressure on the Republicans depends on his approval polls and they aren’t going to be able to cover the attack by Martin and WHY Zimmerman was found not guilty to the level they have so far. The lid is already coming off the media hype already.

Conan on July 16, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Seriously? SERIOUSLY? This guy is from Illinois and he said this with a straight face? WOW

gophergirl on July 16, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Just to drive home the point GG makes:

Cases Cleared (1991-2011)

-Clearance is when an arrest is made and the offender is prosecuted, or when the police know who committed the crime and have enough evidence, but for some reason, they cannot be arrested, charged, or prosecuted (i.e. when the offender is dead).

-On average, Chicago police cleared 46 percent of murder cases, with the highest clearance rate of 67 percent in 1991, and the lowest happening over the last two years, with 28 percent in 2010, and 30 percent in 2011.

http://www.ebony.com/news-views/enough-chicago-murder-by-the-numbers-405#ixzz2ZFFKBHQV

When this was written: “2012 statistics are not yet available from the Chicago Police Department.” In 2010, if you committed a murder in Chicago, you had, including those cases that were “cleared” but no arrest made, a greater than a 72% chance of not even being charged. A greater than 72% chance of getting away with murder in CHICAGO.

Fallon on July 16, 2013 at 5:17 PM

So Zimmerman’s beating was intended to be a gay bashing, says our “reliable source” Rachel? Oh my. So Trayvon was a civil rights violator? Uh-oh. How many times will she change that story?

The prosecution had no case and no chance with witnesses like these.

Philly on July 16, 2013 at 5:29 PM

Speaking of bills of attainder, according to Breitbart, Holder has set up an email account where one can snitch on Zimmerman and help prove he’s a racist.

Holder gets around the past FBI report by saying he has newly discovered evidence.

Wethal on July 16, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Thirty three states have Stand Your Ground legislation.
In fact California’s is one of the toughest
You can actually chase your presumed assailant until you feel safe there in CA.

Come and get it Holder, you race pimp

TexasJew on July 16, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Stevie Wonder is boycotting the state of Florida because of the Stand Your Ground law, and has promised to boycott any other state or nation with such a law.

I’m wondering how long it takes someone to send him a list of those 33 states … and then how long it takes for him to keep his promise.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 16, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Holder will claim the gun or ammo went through interstate commerce. I doubt either was manufactured in Florida.

Wethal on July 16, 2013 at 2:58 PM

gUESS WHAT….

Kel-Tec CNC Industries, Inc. PO Box 236009 Cocoa, Fl 32923.

Solaratov on July 16, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Sorry about the caps lock. Cat sitting on the keyboard. ;-)

Solaratov on July 16, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Ms. Jentill has raised important issues that we need to debate as a nation.

I believe in CWC and neighborhood watch but there has to be better precautions set in place to avoid tragedy.

If you are going to carry a firearm you should have some type of visible ID that shows you are not gay. It is irresponsible to eye or follow a young man without first identifying yourself as not gay. If you are gay it is irresponsible to carry a gun since a young man should be able to properly defend himself against possible gay rape.

I would like to know libfree’s take on this. I am open to any counter arguments and I don’t want any bigotry to be part of this equation. I am merely weighing the rights of young black men to walk home from a store in safety against ,what might be, a small inconvenience to the gay population. Maybe there is no simple answer to this tragedy. Either way, there needs to be more dialogue between African Americans and Homosexuals about SYG and CWC laws.

BoxHead1 on July 16, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Your public-spiritedness does yourself credit. And all the rest of us, too, just for being near you.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 16, 2013 at 6:07 PM

I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you repeal the stupid “hate crimes” law? Every state already has laws on the books that cover these “crimes.”

Syzygy on July 16, 2013 at 6:30 PM

On the radio this morning they were laughing and talking about rioters trashing a Men’s Wearhouse – because of the founder’s name “George Zimmer”…

I presumed that was a joke – haven’t seen anything about it anywhere else.

Midas on July 16, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Poor Men’s Wearhouse //. They put big signs in their windows asserting their support for #OWS…and got trashed. And lost a lot of customers.

Now this.

Poor buggers just can’t catch a break.

Solaratov on July 16, 2013 at 6:32 PM

It’s time to start reducing the size and scope of government.

CrazyGene on July 16, 2013 at 3:34 PM

What a great idea!

I wonder why nobody else has thought of that?

Solaratov on July 16, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Stevie Wonder is boycotting the state of Florida because of the Stand Your Ground law…

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 16, 2013 at 6:03 PM

How would Stevie know if he was in Florida, anyway?

Just tell him he’s in Jersey and to go ahead and sing.

Collect $$$$ and move on.

Solaratov on July 16, 2013 at 6:42 PM

I have no doubt that Holder the slimeball has set up every way possible to bypass the Constitution in his attempt to harass GZ. The e-mail anitch account is not shocking.

Philly on July 16, 2013 at 7:00 PM

anitch=snitch

Philly on July 16, 2013 at 8:43 PM

After all of the unethical and downright illegal things the DOJ under Holder has done and is doing, only now the GOP thinks that maybe they should try to look for ways to reign them in? No wonder the GOP is in trouble.

How about showing some spine and Impeaching Holder? Not that anything the House does will matter, by the time it gets to the lawless Senate under Reid.

IrishEyes on July 16, 2013 at 11:51 PM

There’s a silver lining to the DOJ bringing federal charges ….

Somehow I think Mr. Zimmerman would disagree.

Sherman1864 on July 17, 2013 at 2:42 AM

But Stevie Wonder is not upset about Fast and Furious?

If he were, would he ban himself from performing in the whole of the US?

Does he even perform anymore? I thought he was just resting on his laurels and his butt.

Sherman1864 on July 17, 2013 at 2:46 AM

Eric Holder perpetrated the FELONY crime of Perjury before Congress during the Fast-and-Furious investigation. The only reasons he is not in jail right now is because the DOJ refused to press charges against their boss, and Obama has his back. Congress took the only action they could by Censuring him, making Eric Holder the 1st Atty General in US history to be Censured. Not having learned his lesson, or not caring, Holder then perpetrated yet ANOTHER Felony Crime of Perjury befoe Congress when he declared he knew nothing of the spying on media Editors, reporters, & their family – not long after that Holder was forced to admit he was the one who authorized it.

Holder was the Atty General under Clinton who helped get Mark Rich a pardon after his massive embezzling crime & flee from justice, helped get terrorists who perpetrated bombings in the US – killing Americans – a pardon they did not even want, and pleaded for clemency on behalf of several terrorist Weatherman Underground members who were caught transporting a truck-load of explosives that would be used in an attack against the White House. He was found to have HID documents in the process.

Holder stepped in to drop charges against the New Black Panther members who were arrested in 2008 for carrying clubs and intimidating voters at a polling location during the 2008 Presidential election. He has since REFUSED to press charges against more members of the NBP Party who have perpetrated a Felony crime of issuing a BOUNTY on Zimmerman’s life – doing so across state lines makes it a FEDERAL crime which is then the DOJ’s issue. Holder, by refusing to step in & stop this, is thereby COMPLICIT with the crime and should then be partially responsible should anyone attempt to or does collect on that Bounty!

But Congress has already been shown about the most they can do to Holder, since Obama & the DOJ are protecting him, is Censuring him again.

I urge Americans – and especially Congress / the GOP – to consider this: Nixon was not guilty of wire-tapping in Watergate, but he was aware of the crime and engaged in the cover-up. Based on that and that alone he was forced from Office. Obama KNOWS every scandal, every CRIME, in which Holder is involved and has engaged in both the cover-up and the protection of the perpetrator, Eric Holder. THAT is enough to threaten of go ahead and begin Impeachment proceedings against Obama! I do not believe, however, that the GOP have either the integrity or ‘testicular fortitude’ – courage – to do any such thing!

easyt65 on July 17, 2013 at 9:14 AM

The defense team for and the defense of George Zimmerman DID NOT INCLUDE FLORIDA’S ‘STAND YOUR GROUND’ LAW. His defense consisted of only a plea of ‘SELF-DEFENSE’…

SO WHAT THE H#LL IS SHARPTON, JACKSON, HOLDER, & OTHERS TALKING ABOUT CLAIMGIN THE DECISION BASED ON ‘STAND YOUR GROUND’ WAS AN INJUSTICE?!

It just shows how ignorant people are, shows how the ‘race-pimps’ (Sharpton, Jackson, Holder, Obama, the NAACP, etc…) who make their living pushing/selling ‘racism’ needed to make this an issue to improve ‘business’, and how all these ANIMALS engaged in riots and attacks on innocent people (white and Latinos) just needed an excuse to unleash their own racism, hatred, and criminal behavior!

As every single one of these people are acting the way they are because – as they admit – over racism & their own dissatifaction that the LAW doesn’t mimic their own incorrect sense of justice, everyone of these people arrested for rioting, attaking people, etc should be charged with a HATE CRIME and a Civil Rights crime. For those Whites & Latinos beig attacked, they should SUR Sharpton, Jackson, Holder, & the Federal Govt for inciting violence based on racism & have THEM charged with a Hate Crime, as well. Finally, again, if someone collects or tries to collect on the NBP’s BOUNTY on Zimmerman, Holder needs to be arrested for being complicit with the crime, as he has refused to step in to stop it & punish the NBPs for this crime!

easyt65 on July 17, 2013 at 9:24 AM

I wonder… if this 6ft, 160lb ‘child’ had beaten Zimmerman to death before he could defend himself, would he have been tried as an adult?
I reckon so.

Dexter_Alarius on July 17, 2013 at 11:25 AM

They have all these investigations going on & don’t have one new thing on anyone. Who’s kidding who?

RdLake on July 17, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Not just bill of attainder, but ex post facto legislation.

unclesmrgol on July 17, 2013 at 9:12 PM

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