Heartland Institute Legal Expert Reacts to Fast and Furious, White House Executive Privilege

Published June 20, 2012

The White House today invoked executive privilege, refusing to give the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee documents to assist in the investigation of the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking operation. Fast and Furious involved the Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder funneling thousands of weapons to arms dealers along the U.S.-Mexico border so those weapons could be traced to leaders of drug cartels. Many of the weapons ended up at bloody crime scenes, including the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed in the line of duty in December 2010.

The following statement from attorney Maureen Martin, senior fellow for legal affairs at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. Ms. Martin was a panelist on a discussion of Fast and Furious at CPAC Chicago on June 8. Her latest writing on the scandal can be found here.

For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book Ms. Martin on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at [email protected] and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/731-9364.

“We’re headed for a constitutional collision between two co-equal branches of government – the executive branch and Congress – now that the president has invoked executive privilege to bar disclosure by the Department of Justice of Fast and Furious documents to congressional investigators.

“The Supreme Court has held that executive privilege is ‘an extraordinary assertion of power not to be lightly invoked.’ It is intended to safeguard deliberations in the executive branch over what course of action to take. That was decided long ago as far as Fast and Furious is concerned. Documents requested by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) should not qualify for executive privilege.”

Maureen Martin
Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.