Andrew Sullivan's Federal Pot Favors

That frenetic political blogger Andrew Sullivan emerged as a loud proponent of marijuana legalization is no surprise; the Catholic gay British conservative is nothing if not idiosyncratic. What is odd is that federal prosecutors want to legalize Sullivan's pot bust.

A Massachusetts legal blog called The Docket carries an odd story: a federal judge wanted to hold Sullivan to account for marijuana possession on a national seashore, which after all is only a misdemeanor and $125 fine, and other people are prosecuted for it all the time in his very court. But the U.S. Attorney's Office insisted on dropping the charges, to keep Sullivan's record clean so his immigration can go through.

Are bloggers getting VIP treatment at the federal level now? The magistrate hearing the case, Robert Collings, certainly thought Sullivan was:

Collings says he expressed his concern that "a dismissal would result in persons in similar situations being treated unequally before the law. … persons charged with the same offense on the Cape Cod National Seashore were routinely given violation notices, and if they did not agree to [pay the fine] were prosecuted by the United States Attorney … there was no apparent reason for treating Mr. Sullivan differently from other persons charged with the same offense."

In his day, newspaper columnist and radio host Walter Winchell enjoyed a close, favor-trading relationship with FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover; according to Neal Gabler's biography of Winchell, this mainly involved the funneling of confidential information. But his special relationship with the Justice Department eventually became public knowledge and helped turn him, in the public eye, from the scrappy underdog into a dangerous media baron. If anything, the blogosphere has bred an even stronger distaste for special treatment than the tabloids did; which is why Sullivan, heretofore tight-lipped about the incident, will probably issue some sort of plausible explanation for the whole affair posthaste. Or at least attempt to.

UPDATE: Here is Collings' "memorandum and order" on the matter, which at 12 pages is quite concise by the standards of federal legal documents. We daresay it's almost eloquent! Docs via The Docket.

(Pic: Sullivan by Trey Ratcliff)