House has ability to jail Lois Lerner without Holder's cooperation

Should John Boehner cooperate, the House of Representatives has the ability to jail Lois Lerner until January 2015. An editorial in the Washington Examiner explains:

Under the Constitution, the House can do that under its “inherent contempt” authority, which was initially exercised in 1795 during the First Congress and on multiple occasions thereafter. Lerner could be held until January 2015 when a new Congress is seated, which could issue another subpoena and throw her in the clink again if she still balks at testifying.

According to a 2012 Congressional Research Service report, inherent contempt has the unique advantage that it doesn’t require “the cooperation or assistance of either the executive or judicial branches. The House or Senate can, on its own, conduct summary proceedings and cite the offender for contempt.” The prospect of an eight or nine month stretch in the congressional slammer might have a sobering effect on Lerner. On the other hand, neither the House nor the Senate has used this authority since 1935, according to the CRS report, because the process can be “unseemly” and time-consuming.

Plus, Lerner may be on solid ground in thinking Boehner and other House Republicans don't have the political spine to jail her.

The big question is: would the media be able to create a backlash, portraying Lerner as a victim of a witch hunt? That certainly would be the strategy of Elijah Cummings and the other Democrats who desperately want this outrageous scandal to go away.  But Cummings is now discredited by emails revealing his collaboration with IRS bureaucrats, and the IRS remains a feared and unpopular agency. Boehner needs a spine transplant.

At a minimum, the gears should start grinding on this approach, as simultaneously Holder is challenged to act on the criminal referral from the House Ways and Means Committee (not Issa’s Committee). Multiple approaches to jailing Lois multiply the pressure.

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