06.22.2012 0

What is the extent of Obama’s executive privilege on Fast and Furious?

Obama Signs an Executive OrderBy Bill Wilson — Obama’s citing of executive privilege to conceal documents in the Fast and Furious scandal is an egregious expansion of the doctrine, which is only supposed to extend to the President’s top advisors — not low-level Justice Department officials whose actions got a Border Patrol agent and hundreds of Mexicans killed. No court with any sense would allow executive privilege to be used as a shield to cover up potential criminal acts, especially those that may have been committed by the executive.

This is a case where the rule of law hangs in the balance.  If Obama is allowed to claim executive privilege in this manner, it may as well be for the entire executive branch. For what is the limiting principle here? If applied to its logical extreme, where the President can pick and choose what documents to seal under the guise of executive privilege, no matter how low in the bureaucracy they originate, then he can rob Congress of its constitutional oversight role of the executive branch. If this stands, the separation of powers is dead.

The House, once it votes to hold Eric Holder in contempt, the next step will be to sue in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia to get the documents. This was the same process Pelosi used in the U.S. Attorneys’ firing controversy. Obama’s claims of executive privilege must be tested in a court, for they are far too sweeping to be allowed to stand.

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow him on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG.

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