At the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Duquesne University law professor Ken Gormley considers contemptible Congress. He focuses on the Republican Party’s willingness to sacrifice everything–history, the law, ethics, the Constitution–to political thuggery.
Finally, there is a civil contempt process — created in the post-Watergate era — that allows Congress to seek enforcement through the courts. Ironically, this law creates a specific exemption for federal government employees (like Eric Holder) acting in their official capacities. The exemption, designed to safeguard the separation of powers, was championed by then-Assistant Attorney General and now-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who told the Senate that trying to weigh Congress’ need for information against the executive branch’s need to protect the confidentiality of information “is the very type of ‘political question’ from which … the courts [should] abstain.”
If Rep. Issa believes he has the power to hold the nation’s chief law enforcement officer in contempt, what would stop Attorney General Holder from returning the favor by arresting Rep. Issa on the streets of Washington for “seditious behavior?” The only thing stopping him would be the Constitution’s command that powers be separated to preclude such monkey business.