Follow the Constitution: Initiate impeachment
Monday was Constitution Day, beginning a week of celebrations honoring the U.S. Constitution. But missing from the headlines is this truth: our Constitution is in crisis.
» President Bush authorized warrantless wiretaps, in violation of the Fourth Amendment;
» Vice President Cheney has committed multiple crimes against the Constitution, according to constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein, a conservative Republican;
» Bush, Cheney, former Bush adviser Karl Rove and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have conspired to undermine the constitutional balance of powers by ignoring congressional subpoenas and circumventing judicial oversight mandated by law (e.g. FISA courts).
Our representatives in Congress took an oath of office, which states:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter."
So it is a responsibility of our representatives to defend our Constitution. As John Nichols, author of "The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism" has pointed out, the constitutional solution to this crisis is impeachment.
The Democratic Party recognized this situation, and its platform contains a paragraph that says:
"Hawaii Democrats believe that George W. Bush, Richard B. Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald H. Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales, as officers of the United States of America, have attempted to subvert the Constitution ... Hawaii Democrats support the impeachment and trial of said officers, their removal from office and their disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States. ... We call on our senators and representatives to do all they can to impeach President George Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney and remove them from office as soon as possible." (See www.hawaiidemocrats.org)
Unfortunately, the Republican attempt to use impeachment to remove President Clinton from office gave impeachment a bad reputation. Not so many remember the role of imminent impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon, in which the Constitution played a very public and celebrated role, and restored public confidence in our Constitution and its role in establishing our unique national experiment with Democracy.
But last November, without even considering the seriousness of the charges raised against Bush and Cheney, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table before official congressional investigations could even begin. In doing so, she took off the table a critically important method of maintaining checks and balances among the branches of our government: The executive, legislative and judicial branches.
Hawaii's congressional representatives, Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono, have said they are not considering impeachment. What should they be doing to fulfill their oath of office to defend the Constitution? Our Constitution only works if all three branches do their jobs. Please let them know what you think.
Robert M. Schacht is a member of the steering committee of the political action group Progressive Democrats of Hawaii. He lives in Makiki.