Ken Starr Proves Prosecutor Law Was a Bad Idea

By Drinan, Robert F. | National Catholic Reporter, October 30, 1998 | Go to article overview

Ken Starr Proves Prosecutor Law Was a Bad Idea


Drinan, Robert F., National Catholic Reporter


I have a confession to make. As a member of Congress, I voted for the creation of the office of independent counsel. Deep in the midst of the Watergate crisis, I thought I was doing the right thing. I and my colleagues, however, were wrong.

I was there in June 1974 when the Rodino Committee voted to approve three grounds for impeachment. Indeed, I helped start the process since on July 31, 1973, I filed the first resolution of impeachment against President Nixon. When the measure for a special prosecutor immune from political control came before us, I supported it.

The special prosecutor made sense in 1975. The concept was that we would prevent another situation like the one in which Nixon canned prosecutor Archibald Cox in the infamous "Saturday night massacre." Cox was closing in on the truth of Watergate, and Nixon's action was a naked attempt to save his own hide.

In other words, the independent counsel seemed like a good idea at the time. The law authorizing it has lapsed once, but was revived by Congress. Would that the then Democratic-controlled Congress had never done so!

I now feel that Congress overreacted to Watergate. The people involved in that series of tragedies were punished, and a total of 28 lawyers were disbarred or disciplined. But the fever of post-Watergate morality led Congress to believe that a new series of checks on the executive branch should be created.

Many of those devices were helpful, such as ethics officials in every major federal agency. But the law that created the independent counsel was ill-advised and possibly a violation of the separation of powers.

One of the 20 cases initiated by an independent prosecutor ended up in the United States Supreme Court in the decision Morrison v. Olson. Olson, hounded by a special prosecutor but later vindicated on all counts, charged that the statute authorizing special prosecutors was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court sustained the statute with only Justice Antonin Scalia in dissent. In his opinion, he claimed that the statute violates the separation of powers and gives broad and unenumerated rights to a person appointed by judges to serve in the executive branch of government. Scalia predicted awful things to come, and he was prophetic.

I'm not sure Justice Scalia is right as a matter of constitutional law, but the statute is clearly a bad idea. It was the result of lawmakers seeking to rectify a situation by a new legal arrangement. There was no one around at the time to point out that the cure would be worse than the disease, but it certainly has been.

Ken Starr was appointed under questionable circumstances and encouraged by ultra-conservative forces to employ aggressive tactics far beyond anything intended or even imagined by those who enacted the law. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ken Starr Proves Prosecutor Law Was a Bad Idea
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.