So Andrew Sullivan gets caught for possession on park service grounds. The penalty is a $125 fine. But because he's Andrew Sullivan, the State quickly decides to drop the charges "in the interest of justice." The interests of justice seem to be that this $125 fine would create a record which would hinder Sullivan's immigration status.
The unequal treatment prompted Judge Robert Collings to write that fantastic memorandum. But Collings only briefly touches on what looks like the most grotesque part of the episode:
Sullivan and his attorney claim that paying the $125 fine would create a record of his being charged with possession of a controlled substance. Collings notes that whether or not Sullivan ever paid the fine, "if asked by immigration authorities, [he] would have to answer truthfully that he had been charged with a crime involving controlled substances." So why would it matter whether or not Sullivan just pays the $125? Because if he doesn't pay it, it makes it easier for him to answer untruthfully.
In other words, the State decided that it was in the interest of justice to help Andrew Sullivan lie to another agency of the State.
Look, if Sullivan's able to beat a minor charge, good for him. (Though can you imagine what he would say if the defendant was a guy named "Bush"?) There's no reason he shouldn't defend himself as zealously as possible. As always, the problem is the shame and dishonor he brings on a larger institution, in this case, the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Update: Galley Reader Z is less sublime about the implications for Sullivan. He asks:
(1) Given that there is strong evidence that Sullivan violated federal law, doesn't the rule of law require that he be prosecuted? That is (as he proudly quoted only a few days ago), "if you genuinely believe in the rule of law, you can't invoke political expediency as a guide to whether possible crimes should be investigated and prosecuted." Right?
(2) Given that the U.S. Department of Justice has provided Sullivan with a substantial benefit, shouldn't he recuse himself from any and all commentary on the Department of Justice? Or do those sorts of rules apply only to journalists with allegedly pro-Palin conflicts of interest?