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Impeach Bush

I agree with Jonah Goldberg that George Bush did commit an impeachable offense when he signed McCain-Feingold. He took an oath of office to defend and uphold the Constitution, yet when confronted with legislation that he himself declared to be unconstitutional, he signed it anyway, and punted to the Supreme Court which (as has been the case much of late, though fortunately not yesterday) flubbed it as well. I wish that someone, like Karl Rove, had said, "You know, Mr. President, that's a violation of your oath of office. It's an impeachable offense." But Karl Rove was never going to do that--the bill was perceived to be too popular.

I don't think that he should have been removed from office for it, but he should have been impeached. It might have wonderfully concentrated his mind for future signings. And that of future presidents as well.

Of course, that was never going to happen, because the grounds of impeachment would have been that he signed an unconstitutional bill that Congress had passed, so why would they complain? It would have required that the Congress itself take the Constitution seriously, something that, as Jonah points out, hasn't happened in decades. And of course, if they did, they never would have passed the abominable legislation in the first place and given the president an opportunity to violate his oath of office.

[Update a few minutes later]

Here's a useful follow-up post on how disastrous the 17th Amendment has been:

The reason why Congress debated whether proposed legislation violated the U.S. Constitution in the 19th century is that U.S. Senators were elected by the state legislatures at that time. The U.S. Senate was a check on the power of the federal government by giving the states as a group a collective veto over proposed federal action. Any time a state governor or a powerful state legislator was unhappy about the federal government trampling on the prerogatives of a state, they could call their man in Washington and have him do something about this problem. A U.S. Senator knew he had to keep the governor and majority leaders in his state legislature happy or he was out of office. This meant keeping the federal government small and not going beyond the enumerated powers listed out in the U.S. Constitution. Also, it meant being able to explain the constitutionality of proposed legislation to a small number of very sophisticated constituents back home at the various state capitals.

The tragedy of the Civil War was that, in order to rectify the (perhaps unavoidable at the time) toxic nature of the founding, and grant universal freedom, it ended up significantly enhancing the power of the central government far beyond what the Founders ever envisioned.


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Jonathan Goff wrote:

I have to agree that impeachment (even without removal from office) is a tool used far to infrequently. Probably every president in the past century has committed at least on or two impeachable offenses (some of them probably had quite the list). Even if they didn't go all the way through removing a president, at least censuring them when the cross the line would set a good precedent. As it is right now, the precedent that has been set (and is continuing to be set) is that the president is above the law, and that that whole oath to defend the constitution isn't all that serious.


Fidel, MD wrote:

Impeach the President over that? They'd first have to impeach every member who voted for it: And they wouldn't have a quorum.

Rand Simberg wrote:

They'd first have to impeach every member who voted for it

Members of Congress are not impeachable. That is reserved for presidents and judges, who would otherwise be beyond the reach of the law.

Mark R. Whittington wrote:

I would be a neat trick to get Congress to impeach a Pesident for signing a piece of legislation that Congress itself passed. That would be too much of a contradiction, IMHO, even for Washington politicians to manage. It would also tend to let Congress off if its own responsibility for enacting the legislation in the first place,

Leland wrote:

I agree with Mark and Fidel. Impeachment may be applicable to the President, but only the Congress can Impeach. The bill President Bush signed into law was passed by Congress. Congress also takes an oath to support the Constitution.

Adam Greenwod wrote:

They'd first have to impeach every member who voted for it

The difference is that most Congressmen probably didn't think it was unconstitutional. The problem is not just that Bush signed an unconstitutional law (since the 30s a majority of all laws have been unconstitutional) but that he openly recognized it was unconstitutional and signed it anyway.

narciso wrote:

Granted that McCain/Feingold is odious, but the Camel came under the tent with the Federal Communications Act of 1934; a point only Howard
Stern and Janet Jackson, felt when their ox was gored. How does 'no law abridging freedom of speech' fit into that situation.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on June 27, 2008 7:14 AM.

Is Philanthropy In Our Future? was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama's Accomplishments is the next entry in this blog.

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