Justice is finally on its way to being done in the case of Hamilton Jordan. While he was President Carter's top assistant, Mr. Jordan was accused by two criminal defendants of using cocaine and, under the Ethics in Government Act as it then was, the attorney general was required to call for an investigation by a special prosecutor. The charges proved to be utterly baseless. But Mr. Jordan was left with substantial legal fees. As a result of his case, Congress rewrote the law so that an independent counsel (as the special prosecutor was renamed) is no longer required auto- matically when charges are made against a public official. It also provided that officials be reim- bursed for legal fees incurred during such investigations. Under the terms of that law, Edwin Meese was recently reimbursed for $472,000 in legal fees.
But the new law was not made retroactive. So Mr. Jordan, who has declined offers of private contributions and has not sought reimbursement from the government, has been left with large debts he has been unable to pay off. Now Congress is moving to change the law to pay his fees. Rep. Dan Glickman (D-Kan.) and Sen. William Cohen (R- Maine) have sponsored legislation to do this. Attorney General Meese and the Justice Department support it. The House Judiciary Committee voted for such a bill by a 20-4 margin.
Some members may have been swayed by the sympathy for Mr. Jordan, who is now undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer. That is understandable. But the best argument for the bill is that it is simple justice. "The inequity," as Rep. Thomas Kindness (R-Ohio) said in the Judiciary Committee, "is quite obvious." So, thanks to Messrs. Glickman, Kindness and other legislators who have supported it, is the solution.