Our newspapers too often write in code. But sometimes the code is easy to crack. Take today. In the course of a write up of the stupid and inflammatory things said by Cong. Hostettler on the floor of the House (albeit not very different things from what you hear on hate radio or read in some blogs) the Washington Post's Mike Allen describes the scene in which the gentleman-by-courtesy had to eat his words:
GOP Congressman Calls Democrats Anti-Christian: Eventually, Hostettler rose and read a sentence that had been written out for him in large block letters by a young Republican floor aide: “Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to withdraw the last sentence I spoke.”
Large. Block. Letters. (Written by a child!)
Incidentally, the name Hostettler may be familiar:
Hostettler was in the news last year when he took a registered Glock 9mm semiautomatic handgun to Louisville International Airport as he was preparing to board a flight to Washington. The congressman, who said he had forgotten he had placed the gun in the briefcase, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and received a suspended sentence.
Hmm… the really interesting thing in that story is the gun angle. Would a representative be privileged to pack a gun on the airplane on the way to Congress under Art. I Sec. 6? After all, he was “going to” a “Session of [his] respective House”
I wonder if there’s any caselaw on this. (Well, I’m not curious enough to actually do the research right now… maybe later.) It seems there’s two possible meanings for arrest:
1. Arrest in the sense of criminal penalty: he can’t be punished for his actions while traveling to Congress; or
2. Arrest in the sense of detention/impeded movement: he can’t be stopped from his path to Congress.
Either way, much as I hate to say so on behalf of a real-life gun nut, it sounds like his constitutional privileges were violated, because of the detention or the charge. (per this story he was actually on his way to a session of Congress) I suppose the act and the clause can be reconciled by distinguishing “detention” from arrest, but surely if that clause means anything, it means federal agents can’t “detain” a representative from showing up at Congress… suppose a vote had happened while he was waiting for the next flight?