Tag Archives: Constitution

Impeachment: full of land mines, ready to explode

Our nation’s founders had plenty of flaws. They were damn smart, though, when crafting a governing document that sought to create a “more perfect Union.”

One of their nearly perfect notions was to set the bar for impeaching and removing a president quite high. It’s a two-step process.

The U.S. House of Representatives can impeach a president with a simple majority. Then it gets a lot harder.

The U.S. Senate would put the president on trial, but to convict a president the Senate needs 67 out of 100 votes.

That’s a high bar . . . by design.

Thus, I respect the presumed next House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to argue against impeachment. Why? Because the Senate seems to lack the votes to convict Donald Trump of anything the House would argue. Therefore, Pelosi — as shrewd a vote counter as anyone — isn’t going to put her reputation on the line by stampeding an impeachment proceeding through the House without some assurance that the Senate would follow up with a conviction.

Trump reportedly is telling aides he believes the next House — to be controlled by Democrats — will launch a bum’s rush toward impeachment in 2019. I am not so sure about that.

Pelosi is not going to follow the exhibit shown by another former speaker who whipsawed the House into impeaching a president. Newt Gingrich was speaker in 1998 when the House impeached President Clinton. The Senate acquitted Clinton on all the charges. Gingrich was left looking like a fool.

Nancy Pelosi does not want history to repeat itself.

Omarosa needs to chill out

I don’t know why I’m concerning myself with this, but I will anyway … against my better judgment.

Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former White House aide who was let go by the president — who also fired her from “The Apprentice” show he once hosted — has declared that she tried to get Donald Trump to “stop tweeting.”

She was shut down by other White House aides.

Omarosa offered a weepy assessment on an episode of “Celebrity Big Brother.” She told a fellow contestant that she fears the United States won’t “be OK” after Donald Trump’s time as president is over.

“It’s going to not be OK, it’s not. It’s so bad,” she told fellow cast member Ross Matthews while wiping away tears.

C’mon, young lady. Get a grip here.

I’m no fan of Omarosa’s former boss. I don’t want him in the White House any more than other Trump critics. But I do believe strongly in our constitutional system of government. We’ve been through plenty of crises involving presidents, lying, coverup, scandal and impeachment.

Thus, I think Omarosa (and I hope it’s OK if I refer to her by her first name) is being a tad melodramatic. I mean, she is on a TV show and she is weeping to her fellow contestant with the cameras rolling.

I feel the need here to remind us all of what a brand new president said moments after he took the oath of office. President Gerald R. Ford took office on Aug. 9, 1974, after Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal. The new president then declared, “Our Constitution works.”

Yes it did, Mr. President. Take heed, Omarosa. The U.S. Constitution still works to this day.

U.S. Constitution alive and well

There are those who say the U.S. Constitution is carved in stone.

Others say it is a living document.

I will side with the living document folks.

Consider this, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision that legalizes gay marriage across the nation.

The Constitution, when it was written, granted full citizenship rights to just a portion of the population.

* Men were allowed to vote. Not women.

* Black people were the property of white people; they were considered to be three-fifths of a human being.

Eventually, the Constitution underwent change.

The 19th Amendment gave women got the right to vote. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery. The 24th Amendment barred poll taxes as a requirement to vote in federal elections.

The courts stepped in on a number of fronts. The Supreme Court tossed out a state law that prohibited interracial marriage; it tossed out “separate but equal” provisions in public education, resulting in integration of our public schools; it ruled that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

Now it has ruled that same-sex couples are as entitled to marry as heterosexual couples.

The Constitution has evolved over time.

I believe the evolution will continue with this latest ruling.


Let's debate this war declaration notion

Matthew Dowd, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, is quite correct to call attention to whether the United States of America has gone to war under the rules set forth by the U.S. Constitution.

He was speaking this morning on ABC-TV’s “This Week” and said the debate should have commenced 30 years ago.

The Constitution states in Article I, Section 8 that Congress has the power “To declare war.”

There it is. No argument. No qualifier. The power to declare war rests exclusively with Congress.

And yet …

We’ve been to war in Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia, Panama, Grenada, Vietnam, Korea — am I missing anything? — without Congress voting on a declaration of war.

The discussion this morning comes just as the United States is gathering a coalition of allies to bomb the Islamic State into oblivion as it seeks to destroy what’s been called “an existential threat” to this country. Congress has authorized the training and arming Syrian rebels, but hasn’t yet debated whether to send American aviators into hostile air space to bomb ISIL forces.

That’s warfare, as I understand the meaning of the term.

Shouldn’t we be having this debate? Shouldn’t Congress declare war on ISIL if that is what the commander in chief says is occurring as we seek to “degrade and ultimately destroy” this terrorist cult?

Amen to High Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it’s all right for governing bodies to begin their meetings with a prayer.

Good. I’m glad the court honored the First Amendment’s provision that disallows laws that establish a state religion but also prohibits any restriction on religion.

What’s a bit troubling, though, is that the court was so split on this one. It voted 5-4 — conservatives on the majority side and liberals on the other side — to allow “sectarian” prayer at town council, school board and county commissioners meetings.

I’ve never quite understood the strenuous objection to these prayers. They are, as Justice Anthony Kennedy noted in his majority opinion, meant to call attention to the solemn nature of an event, not to indoctrinate anyone.


The court heard a case out of Greece, N.Y., where a Jewish resident had complained that the city’s governing council opened its meetings with Christian prayers. He felt excluded from the blessings sought at the beginning of the meeting. So he took it to court and it ended up in front of the highest court in the land.

This would seem like a no-brainer decision.

Congress starts its sessions with daily prayers. They aren’t Christian prayers, or non-Christian prayers. They are all-encompassing. Indeed, Congress has members of many faiths, Christian and non-Christian alike. It even has non-believers in its ranks. Are the non-believing members of Congress going to protest? Surely they know better, given the constituencies they represent.

The court ruling doesn’t place any restriction what’s long been a tradition in many communities across the land. Amarillo’s City Council meetings begin with prayers. They’re usually given by Christian clerics and they often invoke Jesus’s name.

Still, no one should feel threatened by prayer. As Justice Kennedy wrote, “Adults often encounter speech they find disagreeable. Legislative bodies do not engage in impermissible coercion merely by exposing constituents to prayer they would rather not hear and in which they need not participate.”