Federal judge to DOJ: No, you may not dismiss this Fast & Furious case just because you feel like it
posted at 10:01 pm on September 30, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
The last time we checked in on Operation Fast and Furious, the bloody and not-“botched” gunrunning scandal in which the ATF pressed American gun dealers into funneling at least 2,000 weapons to cartels across the Mexican border with no serious efforts to trace them, more of the trafficked weapons were still showing up at crime scenes as recently as this past August. Since President Obama asserted his executive privilege over Congress’s subpoenas for the Fast & Furious documents that the Department of Justice has patently refused to hand over (despite their ongoing insistence in no deliberate wrongdoing) and Congress subsequently held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt last year, the Justice Department has been trying to argue that federal courts have no basis for interfering because it would mean that all document fights between Congress and the executive branch could end up going to court rather than being resolved through negotiation.
Of course, we are all at this point very well acquainted with the Obama administration’s definition of “negotiation,” which can be most succinctly summed up by “the other interested party not doing exactly what we want and letting us get away scot-free with everything,” and the judge wasn’t buying it. Via Politico, emphasis mine:
In a ruling Monday night, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson turned down the Justice Department’s request to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege to prevent some records about the administration’s response to the “Operation Fast and Furious” gunrunning scandal from being turned over to Congress.
“This case presents the sort of question that the courts are traditionally called upon to resolve,” Jackson said in her 44-page decision, issued more than five months after lawyers argued the issue in her packed courtroom and more than a year after the House committee filed suit. “Dismissing the case without hearing it would in effect place the court’s finger on the scale, designating the executive as the victor based solely on his untested assertion that the privilege applies,” she wrote. …
“The Court rejects the notion that merely hearing this dispute between the branches would undermine the foundation of our government, or that it would lead to the abandonment of all negotiation and accommodation in the future, leaving the courts deluged with subpoena enforcement actions,” Jackson wrote. …
Jackson called the Justice Department’s arguments in the current case “flawed and selective.”
The judge was careful to assert that her decision — essentially, to override the executive branch on disallowing the judicial branch from adjudicating their dispute with the legislative branch — had no bearing on the merits of the actual Fast & Furious case in question, but rather that it’s almost ludicrously over-the-top for the the Obama administration to claim that it would be somehow inappropriate for the courts to hear the case. Checks and balances, anyone?