CDZ The Constitutional Basis for Impeachment

Discussion in 'Clean Debate Zone' started by jwoodie, Oct 1, 2019.

  1. jwoodie
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    jwoodie Gold Member Supporting Member

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    "High crimes and misdemeanors" is a phrase from Section 4 of Article Two of the United States Constitution: "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."

    Let's take a look at the entire phrase. It starts by listing Treason and Bribery, and then adding other high crimes and misdemeanors. In this context, the term "other" can only mean "similar." (Otherwise, there is no need or meaning for that term.)

    Thus the "other" high crimes and misdemeanors means those of similar seriousness to treason and bribery. To claim that impeachment is nothing more than a legislative popularity contest is to ignore the specific wording of the Constitution which authorizes this procedure in the first place.
     
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  2. Syriusly
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    Syriusly Diamond Member

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    Of course that is your interpretation.
    The House of Representatives ... shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
    The Constitution leaves the interpretation of those words entirely to Congress- first the House for the articles of impeachment and then the Senate for the trial. According to the Constitution- Congress's interpretation is the Constitutional interpretation.

    And Congress has interpreted them differently than you.

    3 officials have been impeached for bribery.
    1 judge was impeached for 'drunkenness and unlawful rulings'
    1 judge for tax evasion
    1 judge for filing false disclosures
    And Nixon would have been impeached for obstruction of justice and abuse of power
     
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  3. candycorn
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    candycorn Alis volat propriis

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    The whole impeachment gambit is ridiculous.

    I”m not sure what the remedy is but anytime in the future you have the Oval controlled by one party and the House controlled by another…this will happen.

    Maybe make the DOJ independent from both Congress and the Executive and have the power to start impeachment proceedings rest with the AG?
     
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  4. jwoodie
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    jwoodie Gold Member Supporting Member

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    No, it is the plain meaning of the actual words inscribed in the Constitution.
     
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  5. diver52
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    diver52 Member

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    The Congress determines what constitutes a high crime or misdemeanor.
     
  6. Pellinore
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    Pellinore VIP Member

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    That's not why the phrase is written like that.

    What happened was Mason, Madison, and one delegate (I forget which) said that an impeachment mechanism was necessary, but Gouverneur Morris and a few others said that being voted out was enough of a check. Mason and Madison's argument prevailed, so they appointed a committee to write it up, and they wrote it as only saying it would be used only for "treason and bribery." The problem was, there was a case going on in England at the time (again, I forget the name) in which a Governor in India had been super-abusing the locals, but he weaseled out of impeachment because his *specific* charges weren't listed in the impeachment clause. So, Madison added in "and other high crimes and misdemeanors" in order to provide a catch-all for future generations (us) so that American politicians wouldn't be able to weasel out of deserved charges the way that British Governor did.

    The word 'other' is included in order to allow for a wide range of charges, including ones the Founding Fathers hadn't thought of yet. In the end, diver52 is correct; it's up to the House of Representatives to determine what it is, by design.
     
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  7. jwoodie
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    jwoodie Gold Member Supporting Member

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    Where does the Constitution say that?
     
  8. Slade3200
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    Slade3200 Gold Member

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    For an explanation of high crimes and misdemeanors you should check out the federalist papers. Here is a good explanation of how impeachment was framed in the constitution

    High Crimes and Misdemeanors - Constitutional Rights Foundation

    After the Constitutional Convention, the Constitution had to be ratified by the states. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote a series of essays, known as the Federalist Papers, urging support of the Constitution. In Federalist No. 65, Hamilton explained impeachment. He defined impeachable offenses as “those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”
     
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  9. jwoodie
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    jwoodie Gold Member Supporting Member

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    So, Madison et al intended for the House of Representatives to exercise veto power over the election of a President just because a majority doesn't like him?

    P.S. How do you feel about Pelosi circumventing the House rule requiring a majority vote to initiate an impeachment investigation? Did Madison intend that, too?
     
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  10. C_Clayton_Jones
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    C_Clayton_Jones Diamond Member

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    Wrong.

    Misdemeanor refers to bad acts or bad conduct by a president, unrelated to criminal wrongdoing.
     
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