Update 7/23/2007. Here is a Microsoft Word document you can to write your own congressional representative or senator. Tailor to suit your needs, but make sure to fill in the areas between < and > as appropriate. You can get the addresses for your senators and representatives here.
If this article in yesterday’s Washington Post is correct then President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney must be impeached. This is necessary not just because I do not particularly like either of them, but because there is clear evidence that are breaking the law.
If you read this article, many of you wonder if I am making a mountain out of a molehill. You may think this might be of interest to lawyers and academics, but it is nothing that you should fret about. If you feel this way, let me try to provide an example that is more concrete.
As is true in many jurisdictions, suppose that your sheriff is elected. Suppose you were elected to the county board of supervisors. You and your fellow council members create and provide oversight to the laws (ordinances) to be followed within the county. Suppose that you and your fellow supervisors keep hearing from citizens that the cops are only pulling over blacks for speeding.
You and your fellow supervisors decide this needs investigation. Therefore, you go to the sheriff and ask him to provide records on all speeding tickets issued by your county. However, rather than cooperating the sheriff refuses to provide any information. Moreover, he dictates that no one within the police force may discuss the matter with any member of the county council. Although it is nowhere in the county’s charter, he claims that if people in the sheriff’s department were to give out this information then his ability to effectively run the police department would be hampered. He calls it the “sheriff’s inherent privilege”. Since he has a lawyer on his staff, he has the lawyer write an opinion that agrees with his assessment. Curiously, the sheriff is also his boss. He cites the opinion as his justification for not providing the information.
What would you do next if you were a member of the county council? Most likely, you would try to keep trying to discern the truth. If there was a violation of county ordinances you would want it remedied, and those responsible to be held to account to county law. After all, the current county code requires that the police department must uniformly enforce the law. Instead, you are stonewalled by the sheriff’s department. The only thing they will do is agree to short “off the record” meetings. The sheriff will limit those you can talk with. He will insist that no notes will be taken. No one is allowed to take an oath before providing testimony.
This, my friends, is exactly what the Bush Administration is doing with Congress. Congress is trying to find out whether the law of the land, which requires the Justice Department to impartially enforce the law, has been violated. If true, such actions would demonstrate serious contempt for the law. It is quite clear now that the Justice Department is apparently being used for partisan political reasons. Attorneys who investigated alleged voter fraud against Republicans are retained. Those who do not are fired. Congress is trying to find out the extent of this transgression. Is it just a few bad apples in the Justice Department? Or was this the official policy by the president?
The public would justly chastise Congress if they simply ignored the issue. Unfortunately, the Administration will not allow Congress to determine the truth. Not only do they claim that such information is covered by executive privilege, they have specifically instructed the Justice Department neither to file contempt charges nor to empower any grand juries to look into these potential violations of the law.
The effect of this policy is to make the Congress deaf, dumb and blind whenever the Executive Branch so chooses. Perhaps Congress is supposed to consult with psychics in order to determine the truth.
Our system of checks and balances is not just a good idea. It is fundamental to having an accountable government. No one should be beyond the reach of the law. It is so important that in 1868 we ratified the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, by issuing these instructions the White House is putting itself beyond the law and is also trampling on the constitution. It has become its own judge and jury. Not surprisingly, it is not finding much wrong.
For egregious violations of the rule of law that threaten the sanctity of our government and the rule of law, impeachment is the constitutionally prescribed remedy. The House of Representatives impeaches. An impeachment is a political indictment which amounts to saying “Something sure smells fishy around here.” I think that is already amply clear, but the House makes this judgment, not me. It takes a vote of two thirds of the Senate, which can only occur after an impeachment, to remove impeached office holders from office.
Given the White House’s unyielding positions, its outrageous assertions of executive privilege (which is mentioned nowhere in our constitution or in the law), as well as its many dubious “signing statements” that in some cases indicate the Executive Branch refuses to adhere to the law of the land, impeachment is the only remedy to restore the rule of law. The evidence to me is overwhelming: Bush and Cheney have egregiously, consistently and deliberately violated the separation of powers doctrine. More importantly from a legal standpoint, by not allowing the Justice Department to follow the law of the land, they have broken the law. If this policy came from Bush and Cheney then they are also lawbreakers. A grand jury indictment (impeachment) and trial (vote by the Senate) is our prescribed means to assess whether these actions are so egregious that executive leadership must change out of turn.
Yes, I know their terms have less than eighteen months to go. I also know that most Republicans in Congress are spineless at this point. During the Watergate Crisis, Republicans put the needs of the country ahead of partisanship. Sadly, I see few signs that will happen this time.
Nonetheless, their impeachment is now vital. If you are an American that believes that our constitutional form of government means something, you too much act. You must speak up. You must contact your representative and senators and let them know that Bush and Cheney should be subject to an impeachment process and, if the Senate decides, removed from office. If they refuse to follow your advice then you must take to the streets in peaceful protest until they show the respect for the rule of law.
If we fail to do this then our constitution has become a meaningless document. We will become a nation with forever two standards of justice. The United States of American will resemble Animal Farm. The pigs, in this case the Executive Branch, will forever be “more equal” than other branches. It will be accountable only when it chooses to be held accountable.
This entry is going to my representatives. If you cannot find the time to express yourself but you agree with my analysis, feel free to print this out, sign your name to it, and send it to your representatives and senators. You have my permission.
It is time to take back our country. This latest outrage is the final straw. It must not stand.