Thursday, July 5, 2007

An interesting take on impeachment

Avedon Carol sez:

I realize that there's one law for Democrats and another for Republicans and all that, and this was written with Clinton in mind, but:

English practice allowed post-term impeachment. Other perceived excesses of the English impeachment system were limited explicitly by the Constitution. Impeachment can only be for high crimes and misdemeanors; punishment cannot include death, as it did in England; a supermajority is required for conviction. The English practice of post-term impeachment, however, was not similarly limited in the Constitution.

Article II specifies that sitting civil officers are to be removed upon conviction. It does not say, however, that the ability to impeach ends with an official's service. Given that executive officials have limited terms, there was debate at the Constitutional Convention over allowing an already-powerful Congress this weighty check on the executive. The Framers decided that Congress should have this power, and so specified the ability to remove sitting officials. Ex-officials? That went without saying, and nothing in Article II eliminates the possibility.

The punishment described in the Constitution for impeachment includes not just removal from office, but also "disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States." That is, a successful impeachment does not say merely "Get out!" to a sitting President; it adds an emphatic "And stay out!" While removal becomes moot after a President leaves office, disqualification does not.

You can ask your favorite lawyer if this makes any sense, but if impeachment proceedings don't become moot on inauguration day, all this wibble about how there's not enough time becomes just more excuse-making, of which we have plenty already.

Being subject to impeachment proceedings for the remainder of the term would at least hamstring the thugs. And Bush wouldn't be able to run around throwing pardons and commutations at anyone who might squawk. Bring articles of impeachment against all of them, and keep the fire hot right up to the 20th of January 2008 if necessary. I don't see any other way to hold them accountable, and it's the best way to get a snowball effect going. The more the public sees, the more they'll have to say about it, and the more legislators will be hearing about it. You never know, it could even mean they'd finally find the votes in the Senate (although I wouldn't hold my breath).

But, you know, if you want to bring things to a boil, you have to light a fire.

In other words, contra Speaker Nancy Pelosi, impeachment of Lush/Zany is well worth the effort, and the potential for success would be there if the Congress critters were to do something other than issue lame statements. Sooooooo....anyone willing to place bets on when/if the Dems actually get the impeachment ball rolling? I'd say there's still a snowball's chance in Death Valley.

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