House Could Send Holder to Jail Without Approval of Senate or U.S. Attorney

I’ve been watching all of the media reporting on the Contempt of Congress charges being made against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.  As usual, you can tell that the main stream media are right there in Holder’s camp and reporting that the measure will either die in the Democratic controlled Senate or when it goes before U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, who just happens to work for Holder.

However, if Rep. Darrell Issa really wants to get his point across with Holder, he can bypass the Senate and the U.S. Attorney by making the charge against Holder to be ‘inherent contempt.’  Inherent contempt is a rarely used charge these days.  In fact, the last time it was used was by the Senate in 1934 in a case that involved William P. MacCracken Jr. and the U.S. Postmaster.

In an inherent contempt proceeding, the Senate or in today’s case the House, brings the contempt charges against the individual, in this case Eric Holder.  The Sergeant-at-Arms for the House then arrests the person charged and brings them to the floor of the House.  The charges are read, discussed and then voted upon.  If the House votes in favor of the charges, the guilty party is then subject to the appropriate punishment, which may include imprisonment.  The House will decide if they want to send Holder to prison for his actions or just give him a slap on the wrist, like they often do.

In the 1934 case, MacCracken was charged with inherent contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before Congress and allowing his clients to destroy documents that Congress had subpoenaed.  The Senate voted to hold MacCracken in inherent contempt and promptly sentenced him to 10 days in jail.  MacCracken appealed in federal court and the case eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court who ruled that the Senate had acted constitutionally and that MacCracken would indeed have to serve his 10 days in jail.

If Issa really wanted to show the Obama administration that the House and the American people are not going to put up with their above the law ways, then he should make the charges against Holder inherent contempt charges so that it doesn’t get held up by the Senate Democrats or the U.S. Attorney.  Besides, I can’t think of a better place for Eric Holder, who as the nation’s top cop has broken more laws than Bill Clinton ever did.