Publius Speaks

Publius Speaks
Become A Follower

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Once again, we hear another incessant drumbeat from the Republicans.  John Boehner, Speaker of the House, wants to sue the President.  Sarah Palin, she of no office, wants to push the impeachment of the President.  Others add to the din.  Is this the final attempt to smear the legacy of the first President of color?  Probably, but it is also a serious attempt to control the minds of voters who do not care to seek out truth.

Presumably, Boehner, representing more of his party than just himself, wants to sue the President for criminal or anti-civil actions that he has performed.  The only clue we had until recently was that the suit had to do with the President acting contrary to his oath of office in general areas like health care, foreign policy, and education.  Boehner wrote in a letter to his colleagues, that this action stems from President Obama's having "circumvented the Congress through executive action, creating his own laws and excusing himself from executing statutes he is sworn to enforce."  Now we are told that the act of non-enforcement has to do with an exemption from the ACA mandate that all small businesses of a certain type had to offer coverage at a certain point.   The action he took was one urged upon him earlier by the Republicans! President Obama allowed small businesses an extra year before they had to meet the mandate.  
We can only presume that Boehner also doesn't agree with Executive actions the President has had to take in order to address problems and issues that Congress refuses to address.  Or more correctly, he opposes Executive Actions that actually get things done!

In fact, the President's problem with Boehner and Congress has centered around having to act almost solely on his own because Congress refuses to act.  So, he has had to rely on past legislation, and on rules and regulations, and presumably on the power of being Commander-in-chief.  It would, of course, be ridiculous of President Obama or any other President to promulgate Executive actions without first checking with his legal staff and with the Attorney General before acting. 

Sarah Palin seems to disagree with the Speaker, and apparently thinks the President should be impeached rather than sued, although she does not say in detail what "high crimes and misdemeanors" that might entail.  However, and I hate to admit it, Palin may be right in this sense: the House (and the Speaker specifically) probably have no standing to "sue" the President.  Impeachment is the primary course of action permitted by the Constitution.

That brings us to a very important point: the law suit is nothing but theater.  The intention is undoubtedly two-fold:  bring more Obama doubters and haters into the voting in November, and use this scam to prepare for the process of impeachment.  I say this for good reason.  The Constitution does not support law suits of one branch of government against another.  As I read Article I, Section 3, Congress would have no standing to bring a suit against the President until after he has been found guilty ("convicted") of impeachable crimes by the Senate.  However, the Constitution does allow the process of impeachment as a check of one branch upon another (Article II, Section 4).  Therefore, the suit might be useful as preparation for impeachment, but can by itself go nowhere unless the SCOTUS decides to make up one more unfounded and noxious nostrum!

There are some from the Radical Right, who try to be more specific about "charges" of wrong-doing against the President.  Here are a few:

1)  Chairman Darell Issa:  claims the President is responsible for the lack of adequate protection at the embassy in Benghazi, Libya; for the deaths of the four Americans, and for lying about the nature of that attack.  He claims that a "stand-down" order was issued by the White House, thus preventing protection from ever taking place.  After millions of dollars in expenses to run the committee hearings involved, the Chairman has not found one shred of evidence to assert any charges in court, or any high crimes or misdemeanors in an impeachment process.  It just won't fly, and the total transcripts and evidence in emails showed that the White House was not involved.  A similar outcome applies to the so-called "IRS scandal."  No White House involvement.  No matter how hard Issa tries, the further away from crime or illegality he gets. 

Perhaps not as applicable as regards the tactics of the NSA. The American people don't like to be spied upon or listened in on.  But again, there is nothing that proves direct involvement of the White House.  The NSA has legislative and judicial authority for what it does, so the President is not the perpetrator of the actions of that agency, but Congress is.  And therein lies a very basic fact:  it is Congress who makes all the laws.  Congress has only itself to blame if something is objectionable about their legislative acts.

2)  Senator John McCain would like nothing better than to impeach the President.  He would most likely concentrate his efforts toward showing that the President's failures as Commander-in-Chief to act militarily against Syria, Egypt, Iran and others are impeachable offenses.  With the humanitarian crisis at our southern border, McCain will undoubtedly bring forth the absurdity that the President has failed to protect our borders, and should therefore be impeached for failing to enforce our immigration laws as regards illegal aliens crossing our borders.

3)  And then, there is Sen.Tom Coburn of Oklahoma who has said, on more than one occasion, that he is watching President Obama's actions for impeachable offenses.  Apparently, he hasn't found any since we do not have any detail to report other than what Coburn has already said.  His mantra is that the Congress should start working on the list of criteria that would begin the process of impeachment.  That may very well be exactly what Boehner has in mind with his law suit.  Perhaps it is simply a listing of charges that could be used for impeachment rather than in a regular court of law.

Let us then explore the other side of this issue.  Let democratic representatives bring charges of "high crimes and misdemeanors" against John Boehner, Speaker of the House, who has failed to fulfill his oath of office!  Unfortunately, we will miss the opportunity to include his recently vanquished lieutenant, Eric Kantor, in those charges!

Boehner had to swear a similar oath of office to that taken by the President: to uphold the Constitution.  Our Constitution says many things about the functions of the Congress which can be applied to the office of the Speaker.  Here are a few that might serve as grounds for impeachment:

1)  Congress is responsible for providing for "the common defense and general welfare of the United States."  Can it be charged that Republicans in general, and the Speaker in particular, have not provided for the general welfare of the poor children of this country by cutting Head Start, Food Stamps, WIC programs, and school lunches, as well as ignoring the effects of refusing to allow a vote on universal pre-K, expanded gun background checks, refurbishing of old school buildings. The list of neglect goes on and on, but I have spoken of this before on other blog postings.  The point is that Congress has failed to provide for the general welfare of children and as a result, too  many children (1 in 5 in this country) are going without essential services and programs.  In my opinion, this is a "high crime" and impeachable.

2)  Congress is responsible for establishing a "uniform Rule of Naturalization."  Not under this Speaker! who refuses to bring to a vote, the comprehensive uniform immigration bill passed by the Senate.  Does the Speaker have the right to block legislation that is required by the Constitution?  Perhaps, in general.  But, in this case, although we have immigration laws in place, it is a reasonable question as to whether we have a uniform rule (comprehensive code) of Naturalization.  I am of the opinion that we do not have such simply because immigration has developed in ways that are not addressed by the old code.  The Speaker is responsible for the lack of a uniform Rule.

3)  "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect pay the debts."  Why, then, do we have a tax system that does not pay our debts?  Could it be that Congress is not paying attention to its responsibility, but is more concerned about tax breaks, tax loopholes and tax rebates for the rich and wealthy corporations?  I believe Boehner is guilty of not paying our debts, contrary to the Constitution.

4)  Congress also has the responsibility of establishing "Post Offices and post roads." Does that mean that cuts in post offices across the country are unconstitutional if the Constitution only allows "establishing" them?  Does the responsibility involved in establishing post roads extend to maintaining those roads?  One would think so, but an infrastructure bill still sits un-considered and un-passed because it has not been brought to the floor by the Speaker! 

5)  Congress has the broad responsibility "to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution...."  Is the Speaker's past statement about being proud of his record of not passing legislation an impeachable offense when one takes seriously what the Constitution declares about making laws?  Does the Constitution stand for a positive attitude toward passing legislation, and is that being undermined by the Tea Party in general and the Speaker in particular?  I believe the authors of our founding document would not recognize the negativity and neglect demonstrated by this Speaker and his Party of NO! 

6)  A few more thoughts brought about by several of the Amendments to the Constitution, especially XIV and XV:  the Speaker has not addressed the robbery of the tax system by corporations and the rich, the Speaker has failed to speak or act against the unconstitutional restrictions on voting and voters; the Speaker has allowed a minority to dictate disposition of legislation rather than a majority vote; the Speaker has allowed "emoluments" to influence legislation; the Speaker has vowed to destroy an Act of Congress (ACA) declared constitutional by the SCOTUS.  Most distressing is the fact that the Speaker of the House led a movement to shut down the operations of the federal government.  Since that power is not granted to the House by the Constitution, the Speaker acted outside the Constitution, and must be impeached for that, if nothing else.
Let Speaker Boehner know that "what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!"  Impeach the do-nothing, illegally  neglectful Speaker of the House if he dares to impeach our President!!