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On three separate occasions, Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) has introduced a resolution to impeach President Donald Trump. Each time, the House of Representatives has voted it down.

And with good reason. Consider Green's latest resolution. No matter how much one opposes Trump, it would have been a serious misuse of the House's impeachment power. The 95 members who voted for it either do not understand or do not care about the purpose and proper use of this procedure.

Green's resolution said that the president should be impeached because he is "unfit to represent" American values of "decency and morality" and "respectability and civility."

There is no doubt that Green deplores Trump and disagrees with his policies on many important issues. The question, however, is whether such matters are properly the basis for seeking to nullify the last election by removing the president from office. They are not.

In drafting the Constitution, America's founders provided for impeachment not as a partisan political weapon, or as an alternative to elections, but as a way to address serious misconduct by the president or other federal officials.

The 1787 convention that produced the Constitution carefully defined the conduct that warranted impeachment. The delegates rejected broad, vague language such as "malpractice or neglect of duty" as well as a narrow category limited only to treason and bribery. Instead, they chose the phrase that appears today in Article II, Section 4: "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

This phrase had been in English law for centuries, and the founders knew what it meant. It designates behavior that, as Professor John McGinnis puts it, is "serious objective misconduct that bears on the official's fitness for office."

To date, neither Green nor any other representative has made the case that the president has engaged in such misconduct. In fact, Green's resolution doesn't attempt to do so. It is simply an expression of outrage at the personality, character, behavior and speech of the president.

America's founders were clear about the meaning and proper use of impeachment, and American history counsels against abusing this power. In the 19th century, radical Republicans impeached President Andrew Johnson because they disagreed with his plans to implement President Abraham Lincoln's conciliatory policies towards the Southern states. The impeachment articles claimed that even Johnson's speeches amounted to "high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Historians have condemned the Johnson impeachment as rash, reckless, and unwarranted. House members improperly turned Johnson's legitimate decisions as president into impeachable offenses simply because they disagreed with those decisions.

The arbitrary, partisan use of impeachment represented by the Green resolution is at odds with the nature of impeachment as it was practiced in England and understood by those who drafted and ratified the Constitution.

This should not be laughed off as just partisan fun and games. It's a dangerous anti-democratic maneuver that flouts the principles on which our republic was founded and threatens its stability.


Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow and Thomas Jipping is the Deputy Director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Editorial on 08/09/2019

Print Headline: All the wrong moves


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  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    August 9, 2019 at 7:57 p.m.

    you might remind the carney man Adler because i believe he is yapping about staring impeachment proceedings showing the DEMS fear of a2020 loss.