Take This Job and Shove It, Part 2

Ken Starr has now testified before the Senate Government Affairs Committee (click here for his opening statement) that the independent counsel statute should expire. In an earlier dispatch (“Take This Job and Shove It,” scroll down), Chatterbox wondered just when Starr decided the independent counsel law was unconstitutional, as opposed to being merely impractical and annoying. Apparently, it was before he took the Whitewater job. Here’s what he said today:

“[M]any students of the Constitution believed that the Independent Counsel statute, even absent judicial enforcement, would be found unconstitutional as a violation of the separation of powers. That was my own view. [Italics Chatterbox’s.] But, in Morrison v. Olson, the Supreme Court upheld the law. The Court stressed that the law did not and could not substantially trespass on the Executive power of law enforcement.”

Morrison v. Olson was decided in 1988. Apparently Starr, who was then a federal appellate judge, disagreed with its findings. As a judge, he was nonetheless duty-bound to follow it. But by the time Starr got offered the Whitewater job in 1994, he was in private practice at Kirkland & Ellis and was free to act on his own convictions. Why did he agree to take over an investigation he deemed unconstitutional? Because, Chatterbox has to believe, he hated Clinton’s guts.

–Timothy Noah