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Impeachment: The Unthinkable Process

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Impeachment: The Unthinkable Process

 

It's the last thing you would ever think could happen to an American President. Since 1841, over one-third of all American Presidents have either died in office, became disabled, or resigned. However, no American President has ever been forced from office due to impeachment.

In fact, only four times in our history, has Congress held serious discussions of impeachment:

  • Andrew Johnson was actually impeached when Congress became unhappy with the way he was dealing with some post-Civil War matters, but Johnson was acquitted in the Senate by one vote and remained in office.
  • Congress introduced a resolution to impeach John Tyler over state's rights issues, but the resolution failed.
  • Congress was debating his impeachment over the Watergate break-in when President Richard Nixon resigned.
  • William J. Clinton was impeached by the House on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in relationship to his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was eventually acquitted by the Senate.

The Impeachment Process

In the House of Representatives

  • The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee will propose a Resolution calling for the Judiciary Committee to begin a formal inquiry into the issue of impeachment.
  • Based on their inquiry, the Judiciary Committee will send another Resolution to the full House stating that impeachment is warranted and why (the Articles of Impeachment), or that impeachment is not called for.
  • The Full House (probably operating under special floor rules set by the House Rules Committee) will debate and vote on each Article of Impeachment.
  • Should any one of the Articles of Impeachment be approved by a simple majority vote, the President will be "impeached." However, being impeached is sort of like being indicted of a crime. There still has to be a trial, which is where the US Senate comes in.

In the Senate

  • The Articles of Impeachment are received from the House.
  • The Senate formulates rules and procedures for holding a trial.
  • A trial will be held. The President will be represented by his lawyers. A select group of House members will serve as "prosecutors." The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (currently John G. Roberts) will preside with all 100 Senators acting as the jury.
  • The Senate will meet in private session to debate a verdict.
  • The Senate, in open session, will vote on a verdict. A 2/3 vote of the Senate will result in a conviction.
  • The Senate will vote to remove the President from office.
  • The Senate may also vote (by a simple majority) to prohibit the President from holding any public office in the future.

Impeachable Offenses

Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution says, "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." In his report, Independent Counsel, Starr accuses President Clinton of committing eleven acts for which he could be removed from office by impeachment. Are any of those acts "Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors?" Well, that's up to the members of the House of Representatives. According to Constitutional Lawyers, "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" are (1) real criminality -- breaking a law; (2) abuses of power; (3) "violation of public trust" as defined by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers. In 1970, then Representative Gerald R. Ford defined impeachable offenses as "whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history." An excellent definition, Mr. Former President. In the past, Congress has issued Articles of Impeachment for acts in three general categories:

  • Behavior grossly incompatible with the proper function and purpose of the office.
  • Employing the power of the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain
Entry #83

Comments

1.
CajunWin4Comment by CajunWin4 - September 19, 2012, 2:13 am
Obama wins right to indefinitely detain Americans under NDAA


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Published: 18 September, 2012, 19:55







US President Barack Obama. (AFP photo/Robyn Beck)

TRENDS:Defense Authorization Act

TAGS:Obama, Terrorism, Law, USA, Court



A lone appeals judge bowed down to the Obama administration late Monday and reauthorized the White House’s ability to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or due process.

Last week, a federal judge ruled that an temporary injunction on section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 must be made permanent, essentially barring the White House from ever enforcing a clause in the NDAA that can let them put any US citizen behind bars indefinitely over mere allegations of terrorist associations. On Monday, the US Justice Department asked for an emergency stay on that order, and hours later US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier agreed to intervene and place a hold on the injunction.

The stay will remain in effect until at least September 28, when a three-judge appeals court panel is expected to begin addressing the issue.

On December 31, 2011, US President Barack Obama signed the NDAA into law, even though he insisted on accompanying that authorization with a statement explaining his hesitance to essentially eliminate habeas corpus for the American people.

“The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it,” President Obama wrote. “In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”

A lawsuit against the administration was filed shortly thereafter on behalf of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges and others, and Judge Forrest agreed with them in district court last week after months of debate. With the stay issued on Monday night, however, that justice’s decision has been destroyed.

With only Judge Lohier’s single ruling on Monday, the federal government has been once again granted the go ahead to imprison any person "who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners" until a poorly defined deadline described as merely “the end of the hostilities.” The ruling comes despite Judge Forrest's earlier decision that the NDAA fails to “pass constitutional muster” and that the legislation contained elements that had a "chilling impact on First Amendment rights”

Because alleged terrorists are so broadly defined as to include anyone with simple associations with enemy forces, some members of the press have feared that simply speaking with adversaries of the state can land them behind bars.

"First Amendment rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and cannot be legislated away," Judge Forrest wrote last week. "This Court rejects the Government's suggestion that American citizens can be placed in military detention indefinitely, for acts they could not predict might subject them to detention."

Bruce Afran, a co-counsel representing the plaintiffs in the case Hedges v Obama, said Monday that he suspects the White House has been relentless in this case because they are already employing the NDAA to imprison Americans, or plan to shortly.

“A Department of Homeland Security bulletin was issued Friday claiming that the riots [in the Middle East] are likely to come to the US and saying that DHS is looking for the Islamic leaders of these likely riots,” Afran told Hedges for a blogpost published this week. “It is my view that this is why the government wants to reopen the NDAA — so it has a tool to round up would-be Islamic protesters before they can launch any protest, violent or otherwise. Right now there are no legal tools to arrest would-be protesters. The NDAA would give the government such power. Since the request to vacate the injunction only comes about on the day of the riots, and following the DHS bulletin, it seems to me that the two are connected. The government wants to reopen the NDAA injunction so that they can use it to block protests.”

Within only hours of Afran’s statement being made public, demonstrators in New York City waged a day of protests in order to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Although it is not believed that the NDAA was used to justify any arrests, more than 180 political protesters were detained by the NYPD over the course of the day’s actions. One week earlier, the results of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union confirmed that the FBI has been monitoring Occupy protests in at least one instance, but the bureau would not give further details, citing that decision is "in the interest of national defense or foreign policy."

Josh Gerstein, a reporter with Politico, reported on the stay late Monday and acknowledged that both Forrest and Lohier were appointed to the court by President Obama.
2.
rdgrnrComment by rdgrnr - September 19, 2012, 9:57 am
The right to imprison AMERICAN CITIZENS without charge or due process, which is in direct violation of our Constitutional rights. They call those "political prisoners" in 3rd world countries and dictatorships.
He should be impeached.
3.
sully16Comment by sully16 - September 19, 2012, 10:20 am
yep
4.
Comment by nophcoli - September 19, 2012, 10:58 am
I wonder why Bush or Cheney weren't impeached?
5.
rdgrnrComment by rdgrnr - September 19, 2012, 11:22 am
Better late than never, booby.
Right?
6.
CajunWin4Comment by CajunWin4 - September 19, 2012, 11:46 am
In February 2009, President Obama was very confident that his economic policies would turn the country around within a year. He said, and I quote, 'A year from now, I think people are going to see that we're starting to make some progress. If I don't have this done in three years, then there's going to be a one-term proposition.' Well, Mr. President, your policies haven't worked. Spending our way out of the recession hasn't worked. And so Mr. President, we take you at your word."

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