01/12/2006: High Crimes and Misdemeanors...
The Nation has this very long - but excellent discussion - by Elizabeth Holtzman [who wrote up the articles of impeachment for Richard Nixon] about "The Impeachment of George W. Bush".
Here are just a few excerpts:
"Finally, it has started. People have begun to speak of impeaching President George W. Bush--not in hushed whispers but openly, in newspapers, on the Internet, in ordinary conversations and even in Congress. As a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, I believe they are right to do so.
At the time, I hoped that our committee's work would send a strong signal to future Presidents that they had to obey the rule of law. I was wrong.
Like many others, I have been deeply troubled by Bush's breathtaking scorn for our international treaty obligations under the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions. I have also been disturbed by the torture scandals and the violations of US criminal laws at the highest levels of our government they may entail, something I have written about in these pages [see Holtzman, "Torture and Accountability," July 18/25, 2005]. These concerns have been compounded by growing evidence that the President deliberately misled the country into the war in Iraq. But it wasn't until the most recent revelations that President Bush directed the wiretapping of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Americans, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)--and argued that, as Commander in Chief, he had the right in the interests of national security to override our country's laws--that I felt the same sinking feeling in my stomach as I did during Watergate.
As a matter of constitutional law, these and other misdeeds constitute grounds for the impeachment of President Bush. A President, any President, who maintains that he is above the law--and repeatedly violates the law--thereby commits high crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional standard for impeachment and removal from office. A high crime or misdemeanor is an archaic term that means a serious abuse of power, whether or not it is also a crime, that endangers our constitutional system of government.
The framers of our Constitution feared executive power run amok and provided the remedy of impeachment to protect against it. While impeachment is a last resort, and must never be lightly undertaken (a principle ignored during the proceedings against President Bill Clinton), neither can Congress shirk its responsibility to use that tool to safeguard our democracy. No President can be permitted to commit high crimes and misdemeanors with impunity.
But impeachment and removal from office will not happen unless the American people are convinced of its necessity after a full and fair inquiry into the facts and law is conducted. That inquiry must commence now.
As awful as Watergate was, after the vote on impeachment and the resignation of President Nixon, the nation felt a huge sense of relief. Impeachment is a tortuous process, but now that President Bush has thrown down the gauntlet and virtually dared Congress to stop him from violating the law, nothing less is necessary to protect our constitutional system and preserve our democracy."
And I am really SICK of arguments that CIC only had the Nations' interests at heart and doing what is good for me. As a citizen, it is NEVER in my interest to allow the President to wilfully violate the Law and undermine our system of government.
On one level, the Alito hearings and questions about Roe v Wade have been a bit instructive on this matter as to explaining why many conservatives have legal qualms about this ruling following from the Constitution because the word "Abortion" does not appear to be written there, nor was it discussed by the Framers. Alito was asked about this point by Sen Chuck Schumer (NY):
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER: Does the Constitution protect the right to free speech?"
JUDGE SAMUEL ALITO: Certainly, it does. Thatís in the First Amendment.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER: Well, why can't you answer the question of does the Constitution protect the right to an abortion the same way, without talking about stare decisis, without talking about cases, etc.?
JUDGE SAMUEL ALITO: Because answering the question of whether the Constitution provides a right to free speech is simply responding to whether there is language in the First Amendment that says that the freedom of speech and freedom of the press can't be abridged. Asking about the issue of abortion has to do with the interpretation of certain provisions of the Constitution."
And many conservatives feel that this interpretation of a "right to privacy" that led to abortion protections was something *wholly made-up* and not part of the Constitution.
But the views of requiring the President to "faithfully execute the laws" and not allowing a President to violate the Constitution or the Laws passed by Congress is not some Fuzzy, Gray-area, Beyond the Four-Corners-of-the-Document interpretative issue AT ALL. And those people who are making these arguments and absurd excuses - I find most troubling and disturbing. They are not following the system of government we do operate under. Not the Clear, Unambiguous Language of the Constitution as it is written and basics of the *Rule of Law* we live under.
The biggest threat to our Constitutional system is a position that would excuse the President's duty to the Nation, the Constitution, the Rule of Law for purely partisan political motivations. This is NOT about some amorphous "national security" concern as the over-riding Value to our entire way of American life and government check-and-balances. And the Framers were clear about this...as is the Constitution.
Karen on 01.12.06 @ 06:44 AM CST