So long as I have some of my friends on the right disagreeing with me already over the ObamaCare ruling, I might as well make one other point about our separated powers and modesty and restraint in government that may add to my unpopularity. Concerning yesterday's vote by the House of Representatives to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to surrender documents he claims are protected by executive privilege: Some day, the Republicans are going to find themselves in control of the executive branch, and it is going to be Nancy Pelosi, Richard Durbin, Charles Schumer, and Carl Levin trying to get their hands on privileged executive branch documents. And then things are going to look different.
I'm all for oversight and for checks and balances, and I've called in the past for eliminating the entire bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. But voters want to see congressional Republicans offering up real solutions on the economy, on the budget, on entitlement and tort reform, and on tax simplification. There's a bipartisan national interest in an executive branch that can operate with a certain amount of what Justice Scalia, during the Reagan administration, called "boldness." The voters elected a president, and the Senate confirmed the attorney general. The voters will have a chance in November to throw out President Obama, and with him the attorney general. But if it were a Democratic Congress voting Attorney General Mukasey or Gonzales or Ashcroft in contempt for failing to turn over documents that a Republican President said were subject to executive privilege, and seeking either criminal or civil judicial intervention, I'd be defending the attorney general and the president. I don't see how the fact that this case involves Democratic control of the executive branch and Republican control of Congress makes the underlying principles and reasoning any different.