Do they still teach the First Amendment in law school?
That’s what you have to wonder when you see a lawyer for the Obama administration’s Justice Department arguing that statements made by former Vice President Dick Cheney in the Scooter Libby probe ought to be kept secret because a future vice president might refuse to speak to a future investigation out of concern “that it’s going to get on the Daily Show” (Washington Post, 6/19/09).
Really? That’s how we’re going to ensure that officials cooperate with criminal investigations, by using government secrecy to guarantee that their statements will never be subjected to criticism in the media? Yes, that’s the plan, according to “career civil division lawyer” Jeffrey M. Smith.
Here’s an alternate plan: How about instead we allow the media to criticize and even satirize the statements of public officials, and make sure that officials cooperate with criminal investigations by subpoenaing them if they refuse to do so? Nope–that would be “unseemly,” according to Smith.
It does make you wonder what they’re teaching in constitutional law classes–particularly at the University of Chicago.