Althouse on Desiree Rogers and the Separation of Powers

In her commentary on Maureen Dowd’s article comparing Tiger Woods and Desiree Rogers (“the White House social secretary who purported to stand on constitutional principle as she refused to talk to Congress about the White House gate-crashers”), law professor and blogger Ann Althouse had this to say:

…But Tiger is a private citizen, and he faced potential criminal charges, either for himself or his wife. Dowd doesn’t even mention the Constitution in connection with Woods — even as she’s going for parallelism — but Woods had a constitutional right not to talk to the police, and I assume he was well advised by lawyers as he chose not to talk. He had a right to do what he thought was best for himself. The public may be interested in him, and he needs to worry about our loss of respect for him, which would hurt his lucrative career in product endorsement, but he doesn’t owe us anything.

Rogers, on the other hand was working for the government, in a position of a public trust, and her refusal to account for herself was quite a different matter. The constitutional provision for executive privilege is not like the individual right against self-incrimination. It’s a matter of separation of powers having to do with the ability of the executive branch to function independently. If it is invoked, it should not be Rogers protecting her own interests. It should be because it serves the public good for the executive branch to be free of interference from Congress. It may well be that there are legitimate reasons for maintaining secrecy about the details of planning and carrying out a big White House dinner party. There are some delicate, sensitive matters in party planning, no? One could imagine Congress picking apart such things for the devious purpose of distracting and weakening the President.

The entire blog entry can be read at

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