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Tags: congress | crown | hastings | simpson

Abandoning Principle for Impeachment Has Disturbing Consequences

us rep alcee hastings democrat of florida
U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., during a U.S. House Rules Committee hearing on the impeachment against President Donald Trump on Dec. 17, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 27 January 2021 05:29 PM EST

Like everything else with the Left these days it is all about the Hunt for the White Whale, Donald Trump. Whether one reveres Trump or reviles him there are consequences to the current impeachment process; and those consequences could be more than even the most anti-Trump senator or member of the media appreciates.

The Left and its allies in the media are currently in the throes of a "The End Justifies the Means" all-out pursuit to get President Trump personally.

While the harnessing of our legal and constitutional processes in the all-out pursuit of one person may soothe the bloodlust of many it is not law it is lawlessness. The targeting of a private citizen by Congress is repugnant to not only the spirit but the letter of the Constitution.

Like all lawyers I'm trained to look to and respect the concept of precedent and consider its implications.

The origins and recent application of Impeachment are both fascinating and serve as a warning of the risks of straying from judicial norms.

The mechanism of Impeachment has its origins in 14th century England as a check on the power of the Crown by Parliament.

In those days, the Crown’s authority was absolute and was not answerable to the people or their representatives.

Impeachment was a seldom used means of removing someone appointed by and presently serving the Crown. Four centuries later in 1785, a prominent British official in India, Mr. Warren Hastings was impeached by the House of Commons and tried in the House of Lords for various misdeeds committed while in office.

This process was the basis for the process adopted by the Framers of the Constitution with Impeachment in the House and Trial in the Senate. In Mr. Hasting’s case however the Impeachment process lasted 10 years and resulted in an acquittal.

This case was ongoing during the debate and drafting of the U.S. Constitution and was followed closely in the press.

It was in a way the "O.J. Simpson Trial" of its time; and played a role in the shaping of the provisions in the Constitution dealing with Impeachment.

As part of a complex system of checks and balances the U.S. Constitution did away with the "Divine Right of Kings" and provides for the removal of the President and any officer in the Executive or Legislative branches.

Mr. Hasting’s legal ordeal and the perogatives of Kings notwithstanding; no private citizen has been charged by name in a legislative body in the United States.

In fact, the Constitution prohibits this practice in its proscription against Bills of Attainder which are laws targeting one person and/or not intended to be applied to the citizenry as a whole. In fact, only eight people have ever been impeached under the Constitution and removed from office. All are former District Court Judges and one is a current member of Congress — 33 years after having been impeached by the House and Convicted and Removed by the Senate.

In 1981 Then U.S. District Judge Alcee Hastings was charged with bribery in a tawdry case that had as its conclusion a last-day-in-office pardon by then-President Bill Clinton of his alleged co-conspirator.

Ultimately, Judge Hastings himself was acquitted in his criminal trial.

A criminal trial in which Mr. Hastings enjoyed all of the protections and advantages that are supposed to go to criminal defendants.

Seven years later when the Congress of the United States took up the matter Judge Hastings was impeached and convicted in a bi-partisan manner in a Democratically controlled U.S. House and U.S. Senate and removed from the bench.

Compellingly, the Senate did not utilize the now wildly discussed but legally controversial tool of voting to bar Mr. Hastings from again holding federal office.

As he was acquitted in his criminal trial he remained eligible for elective or appointed office. In 1992, Mr. Hastings was elected to Congress from Florida’s heavily Democratic 23rd District.

Congressman Hastings has been reelected every two years since, including this past election.

Alcee Hastings is presently senior member of the Democrats’ House leadership team and a member of the powerful Rules Committee.

In 2000 now Rep. Hastings objected in the House to the counting of Florida’s Electoral College Votes in that year’s presidential election. He did the same in 2004 with Ohio’s Electoral College votes.

These were the same procedural steps for which Republican Members of Congress are vilified in 2020.

In a further twist of fate, Rep. Hastings voted to impeach a federal judge who later resigned. In the author’s opinion Rep. Hastings vote to impeach this judge was the right thing to do and this judge resigned rather than face trial in the Senate.

While this writer does not share Rep. Hastings’ views on most issues (nor am I an expert on his 1980s criminal case), I begrudge him neither his seat in Congress, nor his exercise of his prerogatives as a member of Congress to participate in the tabulation of Electoral College votes, and neither should any fair minded conservative.

He was free to run for office in 1992 and he was chosen by the voters in his congressional sistrict later and by Speaker Pelosi to serve on her leadership team.

All of which was proper within the rules laid out by the Constitution's Framers.

In the case of President Trump, House Democrats and their media enablers have (perhaps) deliberately overlooked that there is no precedent for impeaching a private citizen; the circumstances of Mr. Hastings’ fall and rise and seem willing if not enthusiastic about disfiguring our constitutional order to "Get Trump."

In the case of the most recent Trump impeachment, there was no fact-finding investigation or deliberations as has been done in every case prior; the whole bill was put to the floor and passed within two days.

This haste is without both precedent and justification as Mr. Trump was leaving office in a few days of the bill being brought to the floor.

Nontheless, sitting judges with all of the powers of their office receive the benefit of investigation; presentation of witnesses and other evidence in processes that go on for years.

Nevertheless, the left had to have their pound of flesh regardless of its cost to judicial and legislative norms.

The cost to our system may be very high indeed as principle has been replaced with pathology; where the Left and media are concerned. As as a lawyer I fear where this abandonment of precedent and principle will lead us.

John Jordan, former Navy intelligence officer, pilot, attorney, international economist, overseer at Stanford's Hoover Institution and conservative political consultant. Jordan is a regular contributor for Fox News Channel, Newsmax, Sky News London and Sky News Australia. Read John Jordan's Reports More Here.

© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The cost to our system may be very high indeed as principle has been replaced with pathology; where the Left and media are concerned. As as a lawyer I fear where this abandonment of precedent and principle will lead us.
congress, crown, hastings, simpson
Wednesday, 27 January 2021 05:29 PM
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