Letís Just Strike the Impeachment Clause
July 22, 2013
Article 2 of our Constitution pertains to the Executive Branch. It specifies eligibility requirements for the presidency and outlines the powers and responsibilities of the President. But our founders wisely understood that no government is perfect, and elected leaders are subjected to the same temptations and human failings that the rest of us struggle with, so they included the impeachment clause, allowing Congress to remove any President found unfit for the office.
Section 4 stipulates the causes for removal: conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Like many provisions of the Constitution, legal scholars often debate the exact meaning of those words. Throughout our history, fierce political opponents of sitting Presidents have used various interpretations in efforts to justify impeachment proceedings.
In 1998, Republicans believed impeachment was warranted when Bill Clinton lied under oath during a legal deposition. Perjury is, after all, a serious offense, a felony for which countless other citizens have been successfully prosecuted. Clinton was impeached, but the vote to convict him fell short of the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate.
President Nixon faced the threat of impeachment over Watergate, but chose to avoid the spectacle by stepping down.
But the first President to face impeachment was Andrew Johnson, in 1868. His “high crime” was the dismissal of Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War. That action was in violation of the Tenure of Office Act, which required the President to obtain congressional approval before dismissing any appointed official. Johnson was acquitted by the narrowest of margins - one vote in the Senate.
Today, the country is again growing discontent, but while rumblings of impeachment are heard here and there, no Republican will discuss it publicly. Defeated in the Clinton fiasco, they developed an aversion to the process. But it’s much more than that. Regarding this President, Republicans tremble at the very mention of the word. Who would dare, after all, initiate impeachment proceedings against our first African-American President? Barack Obama is seemingly untouchable. He knows it, and he shows it.
He shows, not the character of a confident leader, but the arrogance of a dictator, unchallenged by political opposition. As he casually wipes his feet on the Constitution, he boasts: “If Congress won’t act, I will.” He knows he can, with complete impunity, violate his oath of office by enforcing only those laws he chooses to enforce and dictating new ones without intervention by Congress. Through onerous regulations and Executive Orders, he has done that with social issues, welfare and immigration, and with environmental issues. He has breached the First Amendment by directing religious organizations to violate their core beliefs. He allows his Justice Department to reject discrimination cases when victims are white, and prosecute only cases involving minority victims. When the same DOJ needs cover from congressional investigators, as it did during the Fast and Furious case, Obama provides it by way of Executive Privilege. And when four American diplomats, including a U.S. ambassador are slaughtered, he casually lies to the world about the circumstances, and ignores all efforts by Congress to expose the truth.
Throughout all of this, Obama’s opponents rant and rave. They call his policies lawless and unconstitutional. They may be right, but that’s as far as they dare go.
Considering his abuses of power, his dereliction of duty, the scandals and cover-ups, our citizens’ growing dependency on government, the politicization of government agencies, and our shrinking role on the world stage, Obama’s policies have hurt this country more than Clinton’s perjury, Nixon’s cover-up, and Andrew Johnson’s power grab. If Obama has not met the threshold set by Article 2, Section 4, then the provision is meaningless. We might as well strike it from the Constitution.
And critics of Obama need not be intimidated by false accusations of racism. With his historic election, we showed that as a country, we’ve moved past our racial biases. The institutional bias that still exists can be seen in the media and the far left, even while they hurl their baseless accusations. It is they who hold this President to a lower standard than his white predecessors. That is the very definition of bias.
Yes, any attempt to impeach Obama would be met with fierce opposition, dividing and damaging the country. But it’s clear that our republic cannot survive four more years of this lawless regime. As America continues its downward spiral, we’re left wondering just how far Republicans and patriotic citizens will allow it to fall.
Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries have been widely published online and in print.