Does 'congressional immunity' allow the right for an elected Constitutional officer of the United States, sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, to in effect deny those very rights to due process and presumption of innocence to the constituents that they serve?
A Marine who is suing Rep. John Murtha for defamation wants a federal appeals court to order the powerful Pennsylvania Democrat to testify under oath about comments he made related to the deaths of unarmed Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha in 2005.An attorney for Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich on Tuesday asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to compel Murtha to give a deposition in the case. Attorney Mark Zaid said he needs information about how often and in what context Murtha claimed that Marines in Iraq engaged in “cold-blooded murder and war crimes” in killing the Iraqi civilians.
A government lawyer representing Murtha argued that the congressman does not have to agree to testify under oath and is immune from the lawsuit because he was acting in an official capacity as a member of Congress when he made the comments to the media.
Last year a federal judge ordered Murtha, a decorated former Marine and Vietnam veteran and close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to testify in the case. His lawyers are appealing that decision.
Perhaps a judge involved in the case stated it best:
Amen, Judge Henderson.
Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson questioned whether Murtha’s comments were made within the scope of his employment, and if his constituents are considered his employer, what kind of service he was providing them by making the Haditha comments.“Who is his master?” Henderson asked. “Do you ever serve the interests of your constituents by making a derogatory comment to the media?”
To hold Murtha unaccountable for what can only be construed as outright slander and lies that wrought immeasurable damage against the Haditha Marines (not to mention toward the security of all our soldiers in harm's way), would be a travesty of justice of monumental proportions.
Much to his amazement, Murtha is a public servant, not a king.