WASHINGTON — The Constitution does not protect Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) from prosecution on charges of political corruption, a federal judge ruled Friday.
Rostenkowski's appeal of that ruling could delay any trial for several months, and more than a year if the matter goes to the Supreme Court.
U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson turned aside defense arguments that the government's case was an unprecedented intrusion on Congress' constitutional authority to police its own rules. Also rejected was the claim that Rostenkowski was improperly being prosecuted for official legislative acts protected by the Constitution.
The judge acknowledged that members of Congress have limited constitutional protection against prosecution.
"But precedent seems to be lacking for the proposition that immunity attaches to a congressman's decision to hire employees whose duties consist of photographing his daughters' weddings, mowing the grass at his summer house or other personal duties," Johnson said.