27 May 2010

Contemplating the "I" Word

Yesterday, this blog posting was quite the buzz in the Blogosphere.
The Blog author is in no way condoning what is being reported on, only providing a history of a widely circulating email, making it's second round of the internet now.  There are proper proceedings regarding getting an elected official out of office, we all know this.  But desparate times will have imaginations flowing.

The article reminded me of my own fantasy remedy for my never-ending political angst and exasperation. Impeachment.

Don't tell me you haven't thought about it.  The topic was an active rage during the entire 2 terms of the Bush Administration, complete with same-named websites, fringe crazies, fanatical activists, and congressional electorates.

I'm not going to speculate, though the allegations surrounding the Sestak Incident has many pundits doing just that.  In fact, Congressman Darrel Issa (R-CA) is making the most noise about Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA) admitting he was offered something in exchange for running against octogenarian Senator Arlen Specter.

(ADD Moment: If you are concerned about the Sestak Incident and want to know what happened, let your elected officials know - the more noise WE make, the more Congress will feel compelled to look into it. The Senate Judiciary is already at work on it - you can contact them, too. You might want to check out this list first, just for fun.

If you haven't learned this by now, Dear Reader, you, too are doomed to repeat –  Or be unable to argue your case at any rate. Study history, because it matters.  I believe it might be helpful in the situation regarding the Sestak Incident.

Just what is meant in the US Constitution regarding impeachment proceedings, especially if it involves a POTUS? What are "high crimes and misdemeanors"? Has Bribery been committed? Treason?

Not that I have my hopes up.

A History of Presidential Impeachments

The United States Constitution states in Article II, Section 4: "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

There have been in the history of the United States three Presidential impeachment proceedings:

1868 against President Andrew Johnson **  for his removal of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in violation of the 
Tenure of Office Act

1974 against President Richard Richard Nixon for the Watergate coverup 

 1998-99 against President Bill Clinton for concealing an extramarital affair 

 Modern Impeachment Procedures

Impeachment resolutions made by members of the House of Representatives are turned over to the House Judiciary Committee which decides whether the resolution and its allegations of wrongdoing by the President merits a referral to the full House for a vote on launching a formal impeachment inquiry.
The entire House of Representatives votes for or against a formal impeachment inquiry, needing only a simple majority (a single vote) for approval.
If approved, the House Judiciary Committee conducts an investigation to determine (similar to a grand jury) if there is enough evidence to warrant articles of impeachment (indictments) against the President. The Committee then drafts articles of impeachment pertaining to specific charges supported by the evidence. The Committee votes on each article of impeachment, deciding whether to refer each article to the full House for a vote.
If the House Judiciary Committee refers one or more articles of impeachment, the entire House of Representatives votes on whether the article(s) merit a trial in the Senate, needing only a simple majority for approval.
If the full House approves at least one article of impeachment, the President is technically impeached and the matter is referred to the U.S. Senate. The House then appoints members of Congress to act as managers (prosecutors).
The trial of the President is held in the Senate with the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presiding. The President can be represented by anyone he chooses. He may appear personally or leave his defense in the hands of his lawyers.
The entire Senate may conduct the trial or it or it may be delegated to a special committee which would report all the evidence to the full Senate.
The actual trial is conducted in a courtroom-like proceeding including examination and cross-examination of witnesses. During questioning, Senators remain silent, directing all questions in writing to the Chief Justice.
After hearing all of the evidence and closing arguments, the Senate deliberates behind closed doors then votes in open session on whether to convict or acquit the President. The vote to convict must be by a two thirds majority, or 67 Senators. If this occurs, the President is removed from office and is succeeded by the Vice President. The Senate's verdict is final and there is no right of appeal.

TOMORROW: Details about each of the proceedings. 
** Andrew Johnson is a not-too-distant ancestor of mine, being related to my paternal grandmother, Isabelle Johnson.  I'll write about it someday.

1 comment:

  1. Love the history of the Constitution. This is great. I cannot wait to read another one.


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