House GOP Should Arrest Eric Holder After Contempt Vote

I am beginning to think that Republicans in the House of Representatives need to go whole hog on this Eric Holder contempt of Congress vote and have the U. S. Capitol Police arrest him after they pass it on Thursday. The pictures of Holder being detained in the Capitol Police station would be the kind of political red meat that would have the right wing of the Republican Party dancing in the streets. It might even serve to taint the Justice Department’s challenges to the new voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina and to the voter purging by the state of Florida.


“One important element of this duel, however, is not currently well understood by the public: what, exactly, does it mean to “hold” someone “in contempt”? For example, many of Holder’s supporters doubtless hold Issa in contempt, in a manner of speaking. But if Issa is ultimately backed by Speaker John Boehner and a majority of the House, then the House is legally empowered to hold a defiant witness in contempt in a far more literal way: the House may hold a witness in its hold: in a prison cell in the Capitol itself. And the House can keep the witness there, using its own enforcer—its “sergeant at arms”—until the House session ends. And in fact, each house of Congress exercised this power early on in our nation’s history.

But if Issa and Boehner tried to hold Holder, the optics would be ugly, and Mr. Chairman and Mr. Speaker would risk alienating fair-minded voters. Also, no House has ever tried to hold the president himself—commander in chief of the U.S. Army—or a cabinet officer. And any House attempt to hold Holder would be particularly awkward, as it would effectively undo an appointment made by the president and the Senate—an appointment process in which the Constitution pointedly excludes the House itself.”

Threatening Eric Holder With a Contempt Citation Is Just Cheap Talk

I’d be doing a little celebrating of my own, though, if Speaker Boehner and Eric Cantor were stupid enough to have U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder detained by the Capitol Police and tried in front of the House of Representatives on contempt charges. Arresting Holder would instantly make Karl Rove’s refusal to comply with a Congressional subpoena front page news for the next two weeks.

Even more importantly, from where I sit, the arrest of Eric Holder by a Republican controlled House of Representatives would make him an instant martyr for Democrats to rally around. Latino and Hispanic support for President Obama has exploded since he issued his executive order stopping the deportation of young illegal immigrants last week. As an added bonus, a Holder arrest might finally animate an African American electorate which has thus far displayed a lackluster level of commitment towards the president’s re-election.

This contempt charge isn’t even good political theater, mostly because Representative Issa and Speaker Boehner don’t seem to fully understand that they aren’t supposed to be on stage right now. Their proceedings against Mr. Holder this Thursday, which seemed to be such a victory last week, will now be overshadowed by the ticking sound of the countdown to Thursday’s headline act, the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Healthcare Act.   

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

Videos
  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Keep reading Show less

Vikings unwittingly made their swords stronger by trying to imbue them with spirits

They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.

Shutterstock
Culture & Religion
  • Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
  • To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
  • They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Keep reading Show less

Health care: Information tech must catch up to medical marvels

Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.

Photo: Tom Werner / Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
  • Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
  • As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
Keep reading Show less