House suit seeking Fast and Furious documents can proceed

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WASHINGTON — The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's lawsuit seeking documents on Operation Fast and Furious can proceed after a federal judge denied the Justice Department's request to dismiss the case.

"The fact that this case arises out of a dispute between two branches of government does not make it non-justiciable," U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington said on Monday. "Supreme Court precedent establishes that the third branch has an equally fundamental role to play, and that judges not only may, but sometimes must, exercise their responsibility to interpret the Constitution and determine whether another branch has exceeded its power."

The Republican-controlled House committee sued to enforce a subpoena in the panel's inquiry into so-called gun walking. That practice allowed illegal gun purchases in the U.S. in an effort to link the weapons to Mexican gangs.

The committee is seeking documents describing internal Justice Department discussions about a February 2011 letter to lawmakers that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder later said mistakenly contained incorrect information.

Representatives of the Justice Department didn't immediately respond after regular business hours to a phone call seeking comment on the ruling.

The case is Committee on Oversight and Government Reform v. Holder, 1:12-cv-01332, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).