Holder Appeals Judge's Ruling on House Contempt Action

Saturday, 16 Nov 2013 11:02 PM

By Todd Beamon

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A federal judge's decision allowing the House of Representatives to proceed with its contempt case stemming from the Fast and Furious gunrunning debacle has been appealed by Attorney General Eric Holder.

The move by the Justice Department came on Friday, the same day another federal judge threw out a lawsuit brought by the relatives of slain U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Weapons linked to the botched gunrunning scheme were found at the scene of Terry's death nearly three years ago in Arizona.

In its appeal, Justice asked U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson to allow a federal appeals court to hear the contempt case before she made any final rulings, Fox News reports.

Jackson threw out the Obama administration’s request to have the contempt case dismissed in September. The judge has yet to determine whether Obama violated federal law when he invoked executive privilege during House investigations of the debacle.
Last year, the GOP-controlled House found Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over more than 1,500 pages of Justice documents on Fast and Furious.

In congressional testimony in May 2011, the attorney general said that he had heard of Fast and Furious for the first time "over the last few weeks."

In addition, the lower chamber last week sought to bring articles of impeachment against Holder, in the hopes of removing a cabinet member legislators said had lied to Congress as well as failed to uphold federal law.

Operating from 2006 to 2011, Fast and Furious sought to link Arizona gun sales to Mexican drug cartels. It had, instead, led to the deaths of two federal agents, including Terry, and hundreds of Mexican nationals.

The program was run out of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which falls under Justice. Holder has since turned over thousands of pages of documents to congressional investigators.

In its 14-page motion appealing the House contempt action, Justice argued on Friday that courts should not become involved in disputes between the executive and legislative branches of government, Fox reports.

"Participating in such proceedings will cause harm — to the defendant, the executive branch, and the separation of powers — that cannot be reversed if the D.C. Circuit ultimately rules in defendant’s favor on the threshold questions presented," the motion stated, according to Fox.

Meanwhile, claims against various AFT workers and a federal prosecutor brought by Terry's family were dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell, Politico reports.

The family had claimed that the federal employees violated Terry's rights in allowing the Fast and Furious guns to be sold.

In his eight-page decision, Campbell ruled that federal laws already governed payments to officers who were killed in the line of duty. The federal government had assumed workers' liability in the case, Politico reports.

"Congress has provided a comprehensive remedial scheme for Agent Terry’s estate and survivors," Campbell wrote in his opinion. These remedies, he noted, "amount to a convincing reason for the judicial branch to refrain from providing a new and freestanding remedy in damages.

"It is not the proper role of this court to second-guess the remedial scheme established by Congress, find it insufficient, and impose an additional judicially-crafted remedy," Campbell ruled.

Lincoln Combs, a lawyer for the Terry family, told Politico that his clients were "extremely disappointed" by the ruling.

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