Sunday, August 13, 2006

Impeachment Not Purely Political: Dismissal of Impeachment based on Party Affiliation Violates Constitution

CODAL finds abhorrent the declaration by the House Majority of a ‘timetable’ to dismiss the impeachment complaint which means that the current proceeding is a mere side-show as a decision has already been made along party lines. This assertion of the majority stems from the theory that an impeachment proceeding is purely political and therefore a ‘numbers game’ where decisions are made on the basis of party affiliations. Members of the Justice Committee who will dismiss the impeachment complaint on such basis and not on the merits are opening themselves to possible prosecution not only under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act but also for violation of administrative law requirements to due process.

It is inaccurate to define the nature of an impeachment proceeding as purely political, where judicial principles on due process and consideration of evidence presented has no place. The claim by members of the House Majority that the impeachment proceeding is a ‘numbers game’ where the impeachment or non-impeachment of a president depends on the number of her allies in Congress has no legal or constitutional basis, and is a bankrupt argument without any attempt at adherence to due process and the principle of making a decision after a careful consideration of evidence. The legal theory of the Majority opens up the possibility that a duly elected president, who continues to have the support of the people, may be impeached simply because he or she does not have the ‘numbers’ in the House. On the other hand, it may result in continued stay in office of a public official who deserves to be impeached, by the simple expedient of having as allies the Majority in the members of Congress. The Constitution grants the power to elect a president to the people, not Congress

Black’s Legal Dictionary defines Political as ‘pertaining to, or incidental to, the exercise of the functions of those vested in those charged with the conduct of government; or relating to the management of affairs of the state”. Impeachment is political in the sense that it may result in the removal of a public officer and therefore affects ‘those in charge with the conduct of government’ or managing the ‘affairs of the state’. It is not political in the crass sense, that members of Congress decide depending on their political affiliation or the decision of their political parties.

The basis for the assertion that an impeachment proceeding requires observance of both the complainants and the respondent’s right to be heard and to due process stem from the Constitution and the general principles of administrative law:

i. The Constitutional enumeration of six grounds for the impeachment of certain public officials requires Congress to look into the basis of an impeachment complaint and consider if indeed fall under the grounds enumerated. Members of the Majority who declare that they will dismiss the impeachment, even if they have not read the same much less examined its evidence, are violating this constitutional requirement. This ‘herded sheep’ mentality to acquit, or its reverse, the lynch mob mentality to impeach, the has no place in a genuine process for accountability of public officials. The Constitution requires Congress to decide only after it has examined the evidence and whether it constitute as proof of violation of one of the six constitutional grounds for impeachment.

ii. By providing for the procedure and the rules on impeachment, the Constitution and even Congress prohibits whimsical decisions on an impeachment complaint based on party affiliations and/or pecuniary and other benefits, since by crafting the rules there is that intention to ensure the integrity of the proceeding and the rights of the parties. By issuing its Rules on Impeachment Congress has in fact admitted that the resolution of an impeachment complaint must follow the standards of fair play and due process including the right of both the complainant and respondent to be heard and the basis or evidence for their positions to be considered. The Article VI, Sec. 3 of the Constitution on procedural rules requires a ‘hearing’. The Complainants must be allowed to present their evidence in a Committee HEARING before a decision can be made on whether there is probable cause to impeach the President.

iii. Outright dismissal will violate due process principles under administrative law which require a careful consideration of the evidence on the merits before a decision is made. Considering that the removal or non-removal of a person from public office is within the purview of administrative law, its general principles of due process applies, including the duty of officers in administrative or quasi-judicial bodies to consider the evidence before rendering a decision. If the removal or non-removal of a clerk requires a quasi-judicial body to consider the evidence before issuing a judgment, there is no reason why similar requirements is unavailing if the subject of removal is highest public official of the land. The Supreme Court has struck down decisions of administrative and quasi-judicial bodies not only for its failure to consider the basis of a complaint, but also, its mere failure to inform the complainant of the reason or basis of its decision. The House Majority cannot go to the citizens-complainants with a decision dismissing the impeachment complaint on the basis that the complainants lack the ‘numbers’. The House must look into the form and substance of the complaint and decide on the merits of the same.

The Constitution and its defined procedure, the Impeachment Rules of the House and the due process principles of Administrative Law require a careful consideration of the evidence before judgment or decision. CODAL urges the Justice Committee to withdraw their ‘timetable’ pronouncements and abandon the theory that impeachment is a purely political act that does not consider the right of the complainants to be heard and present their evidence. The Complainants must be allowed to present evidence to prove the basis of the Complaint. The Constitution and the people require that evidence must be presented so that the justice committee may decide, on the merits, whether to dismiss the complaint or impeach the president. CODAL urges the citizens complainants to file the necessary charges against those who will dismiss the impeachment complaint according to the announced ‘timetable’ and on the basis of party-affiliations and not on the merits.

Reference Person : Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares

Date : August 13, 2006

1 Comments:

Blogger Causal said...

Impeach Bush yourself! No Joke.
This is much more than just a petition.

There's a little known and rarely used clause of the "Jefferson Manual" in the rules for the House of Representatives which sets forth the various ways in which a president can be impeached. Only the House Judiciary Committee puts together the Articles of Impeachment, but before that happens, someone has to initiate the process.

That's where we come in. In addition to the State-by-State method, one of the ways to get impeachment going is for individual citizens like you and me to submit a memorial. ImpeachforPeace.org has created a new memorial based on one which was successful in impeaching a federal official in the past. You can find it on their website as a PDF.

You can initiate the impeachment process yourself by downloading the memorial, filling in the relevant information in the blanks (your name, state, etc.), and sending it in.

http://ImpeachForPeace.org/ImpeachNow.html

More information on the precedent for submitting an impeachment
memorial, and the House Rules on this procedure, can also be found at
the above address.

If you have any doubts that Bush has committed crimes warranting
impeachment, read this page: http://ImpeachForPeace.org/evidence/

If you're concerned that impeachment might not be the best strategy
at this point, read the bottom of this page: http://ImpeachForPeace.org

"I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."
Bush, June 18, 2002

"War is Peace."
Big Brother in George Orwell's 1984

10:10 PM  

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