I was a federal prosecutor for 18 years under administrations of both parties (from William French Smith to Janet Reno). Not once was I asked to participate in a case I had even slight reason to suspect was politically motivated. Apparently, times have changed.
Kent's most recent entry
, and mine
before it, discuss prosecutions in which the stench of politics is unmistakable. The former is a federal case against a bond rating service, Standard & Poor's, which, much to the Administration's consternation, downgraded US sovereign debt when it became clear that the federal government was not going to take any serious steps to start to pay down, or even slightly curb the growth of, the largest national debt in the history of civilization. Runaway borrowing and debt has been a staple of Republican attacks on the Administration, which now apparently feels like S&P was giving aid and comfort to Obama's political opponents.
If there's a place in the US Attorneys Manual that authorizes prosecutions for that reason, I missed it. Perhaps it's been added more recently.
The other case was brought by the same local Texas prosecutor's office that launched the "cutting edge" (to be charitable) campaign finance indictment against then-Congressman Tom DeLay. Even liberals had some heartburn about that; it was well grounded heartburn, since the conviction, and the Rube Goldberg prosecution theory upon which it rested, did not survive even the first round in the state appellate courts.
We now see from that same district an indictment, this one against Gov. Rick Perry, for having the audacity to ask a convicted drunk-driving prosecutor to step aside and, when she did not, vetoing legislation that would have funded a part of her office.
I don't know whether the First Amendment or the separation-of-powers challenge to the indictment will be the primary basis for its dismissal, but I'll bet good money that this breathtakingly vindictive and concocted prosecution will never see a single juror impaneled.
I have been all over libertarians recently for their juvenile, unserious and sometimes dishonest arguments about the death penalty, plea bargaining and the rule of majoritarian law. But cases like these show that libertarians have an important point: That the power to prosecute is a fearsome thing, and, when employed as political tool, is the quick road to tyranny.