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The verb "impeach" as defined by Webster\'s Third International Dictionary is to cause an official to be removed from office because of conviction of impropriety, misdemeanor, or misconduct while in said office. The right to impeach public officials is secured by the U.S. Constitution in Article I, Sections 2 and 3, which discuss the procedure, and in Article II, Section 4, which indicates the grounds for impeachment: "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." Treason and bribery are specified by the framers as "high crimes," however, it is the "other high crimes and misdemeanors" that, as Amar points out, "will ultimately call for a more nuanced interpretation" (Amar). It is my contention that this interpretation may or may not include the sexual misconduct of William Jefferson Clinton, but it does warrant conviction for perjury to a jury about such actions.
As the Southmayd Professor of Law at Yale Law School, Akhil Reed Amar has authored several books regarding the Constitution and Bill of Rights such as The Constitution and Criminal Procedure: First Principals (Yale, 1997), and The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction (Yale, 1998). He has written widely on constitutional issues for such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Monthly, Policy Review, The New Republic, and Slate. He is considered an expert in this area, and has been widely cited by scholars, judges, and justices. It is clear that his credibility is unquestionable.
In his recent article entitled Trial and Tribulation, published in the magazine The New Republic, Amar opens that "No president is above the law, but the law for presidents is different than for others, at least in the case of impeachment." As Amar also points out "A president must pursue sound national policies that may render him unpopular in some localities"; therefore he "should not be obstructed by a grand or petit jury from any one locality." In other words, if the president were to enact a policy that some small municipality, or county, or even a state may wholly disagree with or even find unlawful in their representation, that entity should obviously not be able to pursue the president for prosecution solely on the grounds of political differences. This is necessary in order to protect the office of the presidency, and protecting the presidency is of great importance to this nation. Protecting it would be the very reason for the removal of Bill Clinton. His acts of indiscretion only added to the already tarnished reputation of politicians in general, but now he brings this infection into the most sacred of houses, the White House.
Another point is that to remove a president from office would mean to "undo the votes of millions of Americans on Election Day." For the Senate to be able to do this frivolously would mean a "slide toward a kind of parliamentary government that our entire structure of government was designed to repudiate." This would be a bad thing. Our government is structured so that the president, chosen by the people, has a powerful role in government; powerful enough to enact drastic changes as the changing world calls for. This populist presidency that we have chosen to govern ourselves by gives a lot of power to one man. If this endowment is not used to our liking, the people also have the power not to re-elect. However, in times of drastic misuses or abuses of power, the Constitution stipulates a course of action to protect us from such an administration.
Amar seems to focus too much on the difference between the impeachment of a judge, or other, and that of a president. He doesn\'t spend enough time discussing whether or not what Clinton actually did was impeachable. He refers to it as "the pesky definitional problem posed by" what the Constitution refers to as "high crimes and misdemeanors". Here he makes the valid point that when interpreting the Constitution, specifically Article II, section 4 (paraphrased above), we need not take it so literally. In his opinion "This clause lumps together presidential impeachments with all others (vice presidents, judges, justices, Cabinet officers, inferior officers)." He gives the example
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Law in the United Kingdom, Impeachment in the United States, High crimes and misdemeanors, Impeachment, President of the United States, Presidency, United States Senate, Article One of the United States Constitution, Akhil Amar, High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton, High treason in the United Kingdom, Misdemeanor
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