Impeachment preserves Constitutional balance of power

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August 19, 2008


Last month I wrote about the First Amendment of the United States Constitution with special reference to prayer in public schools. I urged all of us to read and study our founding documents as a way to celebrate our country’s birthday. In that light I am writing again about the Constitution with particular reference this time to impeachment. For  the Constitution on line, visit

Article II, Sec. 4 states:

"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.". (1)

       Presidents Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 were both impeached. President Richard M. Nixon resigned from office in August 1974  rather than face the impending impeachment proceedings against himn.


Article I, Section 2 states:

“The House of Representatives … shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”

       Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced Articles of Impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney on November 6, 2007 and against President George W. Bush on June 9, 2008 Among the 35 articles of impeachment against the President are these:

- misleading Congress about Threat from Iraq

- invasion of  Iraq without authority.

- authorization of  illegal electronic surveillance. 

- authorization of  torture of prisoners.

- the outing of  CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.  


       On July 25 the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on the abuses of power by President Bush. Even though Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) said it was not an impeachment hearing, the witnesses testified to the high crimes and misdemeanors of President Bush for six hours, according to Dave Lindhorst.


Article I, Section 3 states:

“The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. … And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.”

       The Senate convicted neither Johnson nor Clinton. The Johnson vote was one less than needed, thus providing a classic example of one vote does make a difference. Today a number of Republicans would have to join the call for impeachment for the Senate to convict George Bush since the Democrats and Independents do not have a two-thirds majority in the Senate.


Article III, Section 3 states

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

       The writers of the Constitution thought treason to be such a serious crime that they defined it in the Constitution. The charge of treason Is not be made lightly. The words “aid and comfort” were used a lot during the Vietnam era when Jane Fonda spoke loudly against that war. Current supporters of Bush hurled the same charge against anti-war demonstrators and opponents of the Patriot Act.

       Witnesses at the hearings on July 25 referred to the war in Iraq as an act of treason. They referred to Bush’s violation of FISA and anti-torture laws as high crimes under the definition in the Constitution.


Article I, Section 3 also states:

“Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law. “

       Impeachment is the process to remove a person from office. It consists of both the charges and the trial.  It is an essential tool in the balance of power the framers intended for our government. The abuse of power by the Bush administration must be dealt with.

       John Nichols, author and political journalist, summed it up best in an interview with Bill Moyers, "On January 20th, 2009, if George Bush and Dick Cheney are not appropriately held to account, this Administration will hand off a toolbox with more powers than any President has ever had, more powers than the founders could have imagined. …. one of the things we know about power is that people don't give away the tools."

       The best way to hold President Bush and Vice President Cheny accountable is through impeachment. The abuse of constitutional authority by this administration is one major reason the founders put impeachment in the Constitution but it is useless if not used when necessary. It is more necessary this year than at any time in our history. You can lend your support for this process by contacting your Representative in Congress to support the Articles of Impeachment. Our Representative in Midland is Dave Camp at (989) 631-6271 or (202) 225-3561..


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