Thursday, July 24, 2008

Guest blogger: Should impeachment be "On the table"

Guest blogger: David Cooper

I know David through membership in Veterans for Peace. Here he writes about impeachment, then and now …

Should Impeachment be “On the Table”

July 2008, Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s articles of impeachment were read into the Congressional Record. The House then voted to send them to the House Judiciary Committee. The following are statements of some of the Republican members of that committee, which are also part of the Congressional Record.

Lamar Smith (R-TX): We should not underestimate the gravity of the case against the President. When he put his hand on the Bible and recited his oath of office, he swore to faithfully uphold the laws of the United States. Not some laws, all laws… The rules under which President Nixon would have been tried for impeachment, had he not resigned, contained this statement, ‘The office of the President is such that it calls for a higher level of conduct than the average citizen of the United States…’ This will not be an easy task, in fact, it is a difficult ordeal for all Americans, but we will get through it. We are a great nation and a strong people. Our country will endure because our Constitution works, and has for 200 years. As much as we might wish to avoid this process of impeachment, we must resist the temptation to close our eyes and pass by. The President’s actions must be evaluated for one simple reason, the truth counts… No one is above the law. Actions have consequences. We the People should insist on these high ideals.[1]

James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) Being a poor example isn’t grounds for impeachment, undermining the rule of law is… Impeachment is one of the checks the Framers gave the Congress to prevent the Executive, or the Judicial branches from becoming corrupt or tyrannical… What is [at issue] here is the truth and the rule of law.[2]

Howard Coble (R-NC) Oliver Wendell Holmes said, ‘Sin has many tools, but the lie is the handle that fits them all.’ And the centerpiece to this scenario, I am convinced, is indeed the lie. It is the handle to the tool. And if we turn a blind eye to perjury in this instance, what precedent do we establish when subsequent cases involving perjury must be resolved fairly and impartially?[3]

Elton Gallegly (R-CA) A society without law is anarchy. Societies that ignore the law are condemned to violence and chaos… I believe in the rule of law. This President violated the Constitution. To condone this would be to condemn our society to anarchy. Mr. Chairman, I cannot, and will not, condone such action.[4]

Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) Implicit in that idea is that no one is above the law, including the chief executive. If we truly respect the presidency, we cannot allow the president to be above the law. When a factory worker or medical doctor or retiree breaks the law, they do so with the knowledge that they are not above the law. The same principal must also apply to the most powerful and privileged in our nation including the president of the United States. To lose this principal devastates a legacy entrusted to us by our Founding Fathers and protected to us by generations of American families… I have a Constitutional duty to follow the truth wherever it leads. The truth in this case leads me to believe that the president knowingly engaged in a calculated pattern of lies, deceit and delay in order to mislead the American people.[5]

Stephen Chabot (R-OH) It’s become apparent to me that impeachment is the only remedy that adequately addresses this president’s illegal and unethical acts… When we cast our votes, we are not voting as republicans or democrats, we are voting as Americans. Our allegiance does not lie with any one president, but with our country. Our charge is not handed down from any one political party, but from the Constitution.[6]

Chris Cannon (R-UT) We are in a defining moment in our history. What we do here will set the standard for what is acceptable for this and future presidents. I believe profoundly that the behavior of this president is unacceptable because I agree with John Jay, one of our Founding Fathers, who said, ‘When oaths cease to be sacred, our dearest and most valuable rights become insecure…’ I submit that in the spirit of our Founding Fathers, and John F. Kennedy, that our first duty is to provide for the security of the fundamental rights of Americans. To properly perform that duty, we must vote to impeach the president. Thank you.[7]

All of these statements by these Congressmen were made during the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton. If they were right then, regarding a president lying to Congress about an extra-marital affair, then their words hold true today.

Let’s remember that impeachment does not mean removal from office. Impeachment is nothing more than an indictment, the same way a Grand Jury brings charges against an average citizen. If the House votes to impeach, hearings will be held to determine if there is enough evidence for a trial, which would be conducted by the Senate. After the trial, the Senate will vote to convict or acquit.

The hearings in the House of Representatives are the only way that We the People can check the power, or abuse of power, of our elected officials (and those that are appointed) through our representatives. It is these hearings that we are entitled to, and should be held. Let the chips fall where they may. The House may decide to send it to the Senate or not. The Senate may vote to acquit as they did in the Clinton case or they may convict, as they surely would have in the Nixon case, had he not resigned first. Virtually all Republicans, and a large number of Democrats were initially against the impeachment of Nixon. It wasn’t until the “process” of hearings that exposed the corruption and the abuse of power of the Nixon administration that a Senate trial was possible.

It is this “process” of democracy that is important. It is how we remain a self-governing people. Without the “Constitutional process” we no longer have a government of, by, and for We the People. When the Congressional leadership takes impeachment “off the table,” when they deny us the “process,” they deny us our democracy. While the Founding Fathers never mentioned God in the Constitution, (and only mentioned religion once, in the context that the United States will not have a state, or “official” religion), they mentioned impeachment no less than seven times.

David Cooper

July 15, 2008

References: Transcripts of opening statements to the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearings are at:

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/smithtext121098.htm

[2] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/sensenbrennertext121098.htm

[3] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/cobletext121098.htm

[4] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/galleglytext121098.htm

[5] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/goodlattetext121098.htm

[6] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/chabottext121098.htm

[7] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/cannontext121198.htm

1 comment:

Tim said...

Good Job! :)