The Bill Clinton Scandal
March 12, 2013 The Bill Clinton Scandal The Constitution of the United States outlines the fundamental government and laws of the country - The Bill Clinton Scandal introduction. Its main purpose is to establish separation of powers in order to protect the people from unfair rule. A means of protecting the United States from a corrupt executive leader is outlined in the sections detailing with grounds for and actions to be taken in the case of impeachment of a civil officer of government for crimes committed while they are serving in office. Thus far, there have only been two instances of impeachment by the House of Representatives of a President (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton).
In both of these cases the Senate deemed them not guilty. Taking a closer look at the alleged wrongdoings of former president Bill Clinton, is it fair to say that he should have been removed from office? A glimpse into U. S history and the fundamental laws of on impeachment may shed a light on the answer to this question. The United State’s Constitution provides a means for protecting the people. After being under British rule for so many years, the people of the U. S didn’t want to be under political rule that mirrored a monarchy in any way.
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The basis goal of the constitution is to protect the liberty and equality of the people. The first branch of government mentioned in the document is the legislative branch (Article I). Because the legislative branch represents the people and is mentioned first, it reaffirms the importance of the service to the citizens of the U. S as number one priority. The House of Representatives is established as the body that has “the sole power of impeachment” (US Const. art. I, sec. 2, cl. 5. Print). Later, the Senate is given the power to “try all impeachments” (US Const. art. I, sec. 2, cl. 6. Print).
Two thirds of the members of the Senate must be in agreement that the President is guilty in order to remove him from office. Also, according to the document, the Senate’s power in conviction ends at removing him from office, and thus does not extend to punishing him for his crime in any other way (US Const. art. I, sec. 2, cl. 7. Print). As per Article 2, containing information on the executive branch, “the President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office of impeachment for, and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
” (US Const. art. II, sec. 4, Print). In addition, in Article 3 detailing the Judicial branch, the notion that all crimes shall be tried by jury does not apply to impeachment. This is later noted in Alexander Hamilton’s federalist papers. In 2 of Alexander Hamilton’s federalist papers, he discusses impeachment in great length. In paper #55 he argues for the Senate being the judge in trials of impeachment. In the beginning of the paper he openly admits that having political bodies in court increases the chance for politically motivated trials of public officials but still thinks the Senate is the best option.
Hamilton worries that if the body making up the court were elected periodically then there is much room for bias in the court. This would be due to the fact that the public may be divided on the terms of the impeachment and this can cause a separation in society that can play a role in decision of the court. Hamilton refers to British history and government when arguing for the power of the Senate, stating that we took their ideas regarding the House of Representatives being the ones that bring about the impeachment and the Senate being the deciding factor.
His main argument against the Supreme Court trying the accused was the fact that in instances the accused are found guilty, they would also be the same body trying the guilty for their crimes. This takes away the guilty party’s right to an independent second trial. Even adding a jury to the trial wouldn’t fair he claims because they are partially influenced by the judge. Hamilton also entertains the idea of a third body just for impeachment purposes but it would require a lot of people and would cost a lot of money.
Also if the group wasn’t permanent and had to gather it wouldn’t be very time efficient. In Hamilton’s next set of papers (#66), he responds to objections against the Senate’s power to try impeachments. One objection deals with the notion that allowing Congress to perform judiciary duties violates separation of powers. Also discussed is the fact that this power makes the Senate a little too aristocratic because they already have the authority to make treaties and appoint offices. Hamilton reasons that this is the reason why the House of Representative exists, to balance the Senate.
In addition, antifederalists think that in cases where Judges are impeached it isn’t fair for the Senate to try them because they appoint them. Hamilton’s argument is a little weak but nevertheless he said the Senate will not be blind to guilty evidence put forth by the House of Reps. Hamilton does a good job of showing that the House of Reps limits the Senate in a variety of ways. In Federalist paper #65, Hamilton defines the reasons for impeachment to be “… offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.
They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself”. It is interesting to think about what John Locke would say if he were to analyze the conditions necessary to justify impeachment. In his discussion of the state he mentions the importance of the majority. He says men leave the state of nature to be part of a community which must act as one and since it is hard to attain universal consent it is the majority that determines action.
This is a lot like our Senate and their two thirds voting process. The importance of the power of the people is evident when Locke says “the legislative cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands, for it being but a delegated power from the people… “(Locke, 87). The execution of laws must always exist as well as some kind of way of dealing with relationships with other commonwealths (federative). He emphasizes the role of the legislative branch when stating, “the supreme power being placed in them by the people” (Locke, 94).
and “the people have a right to remove it by force” (Locke, 95) when the safety and preservation of the people is at stake. Locke seems to address impeachment in his Second Treatise without using the word explicitly. When speaking of ways the executive can be dissolved he says, “When he who has the supreme executive power, neglects and abandons that charge, so that the laws already made can no longer be put in execution. Where there is no longer the administration of justice for the securing of men’s rights, nor any remaining power within the community to direct the force…
there certainly is no government.. “(page 133-134). He also says there is “… another way whereby governments are dissolved, and that is, when the legislative or the prince either of them act contrary to their trust” (Locke, 134). He gives the power of absolving both those branches to the people and goes on to say people will not take decisions like that lightly because people don’t really like change (Locke, 136). When speaking of rebellion Locke says the people have a right to resist but only in special instances. He says “..
revolutions happen not upon very little mismanagement in public affairs. Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws (Locke, 138). Locke later goes on to ask, “who shall be judge whether the prince or legislative act contrary to their trust? “. He replies, “the people should be the judge” (Locke, 139). When the House of Representatives presented their case for the impeachment of Bill Clinton the Senate, they accused him of perjury and obstruction in regards to his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The charges of perjury came from his misleading a grand jury about the nature of his relationship with Lewinsky. The second article of impeachment, obstruction of justice, was brought forth due to the fact that he induced others to lie in order to conceal his affair. Locke would probably say impeachment is necessary when those in power “act contrary to their trust” as stated earlier and may have argued that Clinton’s actions were untrustworthy because he lied under oath. Similarly in his paper #65, Hamilton defines the reasons for impeachment to be “…
offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself”. One may say that according to Hamilton’s definition, Clinton misconducted himself by lying and this is an injury to society because society doesn’t know if they can trust him. However, were his crimes punishable by “conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
” as stated by the constitution? What exactly is a high crime? Some say the word “high” refers to the crime being of great offense or felony. In other instances the word “high” refers to the fact that the official is not an “ordinary” citizen and is held to higher standards based on the oath they’ve taken and position in society. If one were to look at the latter definition and at what Locke says about breaking the people’s trust being a punishable offense one could argue that Clinton’s actions warranted grounds for impeachment.
However if the latter definition is considered then Clintons crime doesn’t seem to fit a felony and seems to be more of a moral issue. Although he did lie, it was to protect himself more from embarrassment for his family than to cover up an abuse of his power. It is also important to consider the fact that Clintons approval ratings were 70% and the scandal didn’t seem to affect his ability to govern. Based on the wording of the U. S constitution it is difficult to define the exact actions that warrant impeachment and in my opinion, it wouldn’t hurt to clarify the wording when future issues similar to Clintons arise.
-4 th objection Since the Senat works with the executive in making treaties why and the senate and executive agree on a treaty that is bad for the nation then what punishment is there in it for the Senate? , US was sensitive to power because of recent revolutionary war ridding themselves of imperial British.. argument against this objection: 2/3s of senate approves the treaty , no means in which the Senate as a whole can be punished becasue 2/3’s are tried… “He furthermore points out the rather obvious impossibility of fashioning a system in which a legislative body could impeach or convict itself by majority vote. “