“…nor shall any person be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…“
Furthermore, the US Supreme Court asserted in 1924 that this constitutional right applies whether a hearing is criminal or civil (such as a congressional hearing). No one can forcibly take away this right from anyone in the USA, nor can they somehow invent some excuse to remove the right.
Joseph McCarthy was a republican senator from Wisconsin during the late 1940’s through early 1950’s. He chaired the House Un-American Activities Committee. During his so-called investigations and hearings, he accused countless Americans of being communists, and in fact had his committee vote to hold witnesses invoking their 5th amendment rights in Contempt of Congress. Known for his intimidation tactics, McCarthy attempted to prove that the US government was being overrun by communists, but he never found a single communist in government. And very Contempt of Congress resolution by McCarthy’s committee was overturned in court.
In 1954 the full US senate voted to censure McCarthy for his behavior on the committee; one of the very few senators in history to be censured.
As an interesting and perhaps eerie aside, republican senator Ted Cruz from Texas, who also has a predilection for using intimidation (terrorist?) tactics in the senate to achieve his Tea Party goals, looks (and acts) a lot like McCarthy:
….. Ted Cruz Joe McCarthy
Darrel Issa is a republican congressman from California. He is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has investigated the 2012 terrorists attack against the US embassy in Benghazi, as well as the alleged IRS harassment of Tea Party organizations seeking tax-exempt status.
It’s important to note that the IRS also questioned a number of far-left organizations with the same zeal during the same time frame, but Issa has never been interested in this inconvenient fact.
Instead, Issa’s focus, besides protecting his status as a very wealthy businessman reported worth US$ 450 million, is solely to embarrass the Obama administration and democrats.
Issa was not able to find any criminal or otherwise nefarious conduct in his Benghazi hearings, so he’s shifted his focus on the IRS issue.
During the IRS hearings, Issa subpoenaed and questioned former IRS official Lois Lerner. She first asserted her innocence and then invoked her 5th amendment rights to specific questions on the advice of her lawyer.
Issa is very upset that he could not compel her to claim responsibility for anything. He’s also very upset that he has never proved a single allegation of wrong-doing on the part of all the democrats he has tried for so long to implicate in various “scandals”.
With the mid-term elections a scant 7 months away in November, and with Obamacare looking less and less like the defining issue for voters that the republicans had hoped it would be, Issa and his cronies decided to implement what they probably consider to be a “nuclear option”, and have the House Ways & Means Committee draft a resolution recommending that the full House of Representatives find Lerner in contempt of Congress for invoking her 5th amendment rights during the congressional hearings.
Considering that the House is controlled by the GOP, and the GOP’s number 1 priority is obviously not governing wisely but strictly about winning elections, there is every reason to believe that this resolution can and will pass the full House.
In anticipation of this, the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland has accused Issa of engaging in McCarthyism, or creating a scandal where none exists. Cumming wrote a letter to Issa that was signed by every democrat on the committee. It says, among other things, that almost all of the incidents in recent history of finding witnesses in contempt of congress occurred during the McCarthy era, and they were all overturned in court.
The committee vote on this issue is Thursday, April 10th. It will probably pass along party lines even though it is without basis or foundation. Then, it will most likely be overturned in court.
But in the meantime it certainly appears to be an act of election year desperation. And today, April 9th, 2014, another act of republican political desperation occurred in a vote along party lines taken in a closed session of the House Ways and Means committee, demanding that US attorney general Eric Holder prosecute Lois Lerner for all kinds of crimes against the Universe.
Meanwhile, the republicans in the US senate today filibustered and thus stopped a bill that provides women protections against being paid less than men for equal work.
This is how the republicans plan to win over independent and undecided voters, through these insane acts of political terrorism.
Good luck with that.