The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Naomi Seligman 202.408.5565

Jefferson Indictment Upheld by Fourth Circuit


Today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the indictment of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), clearing the way for the case to go to trial. Rep. Jefferson had sought dismissal of the indictment on the grounds that it was obtained in violation of the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause, which prohibits the use of legislative material against a member of Congress. The Court of Appeals rejected Rep. Jefferson's argument, finding that the government can prosecute the case without referencing constitutionally protected legislative material.

CREW's executive director Melanie Sloan stated, "While the Constitution protects members of Congress from having evidence of their legislative actions used against them, the Speech or Debate Clause was never intended to allow members of Congress to evade prosecution for criminal acts. The Constitution also entitles a criminal defendant to a speedy trial and we are looking forward to seeing Rep. Jefferson receive one."

Read the Fourth Circuit's decision.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.