Two attempts have been launched within the past 12 months to impeach the President for exceeding his constitutional authority, in matters pertaining to committing the U.S. to combat overseas and, here at home, to restricting gun rights.
Bills of Impeachment originate in the house and are tried in the Senate, where the Chief Justice presides. Article 2, sect. 4 of the Constitution states impeachment shall be for “treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
While the two attempts have cited specific causes such as war powers and gun control, the reality is relations between the President and the legislative branch have been strained for some time. In 2011, the President began his “We Can’t Wait” initiative, when, angered by Congressional disagreement with his economic proposals, he stated that he wouldn’t wait for Congress, and would act on his own—an authority not granted to him under the Constitution. There have also been differences on several of his appointments which Congress felt were done without their constitutionally provided advice and consent role.
In March of 2012, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced the impeachment concept when the president stated that he could commit US forces to war through consultation with the United Nations, in violation of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which gives Congress that duty.
Congressmen Trey Radel (R-Florida) and Steve Stockman h (R-Texas) have threatened to attempt to impeach Obama if he proceeds with his 23 executive orders to provide greater gun control. The issue isn’t gun control itself; it’s the issue of whether the Chief Executive has the constitutional authority to actually issue those orders on a matter directly mentioned in the Bill of Rights.
The Second Amendment, which provides the right to bear arms, was written by George Mason, who specifically stated that the right extends to all Americans. Former Attorney General Ed Meese says Obama doesn’t have the authority to abridge this right. Two United States Supreme Court decisions are controlling.In 2008, the case of District of Columbia v. Heller affirmed the right to own firearms, and in 2010, in the case of McDonald v. Chicago, the Supreme Court ruled that the second amendment applied to the states.
What is emerging throughout much of these disputes between the White House and Congress is a debate on two issues central to the American governing process. The first is a classic power struggle: the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches.
The second is even more far reaching and profound, and it has become a significant flash point in political, academic, and media circles. It involves whether the Constitution should be adhered to. Recently, Piers Morgan,a foreign journalist working as a talk show host for CNN in the United States, inflamed public opinion when he belittled America’s central governing document. But he has not been alone. Left wing academics and politicians have been pushing for looser interpretations—and on occasion, a total disregard, of Constitutional provisions.
Conservative-minded critics of those seeking to knock the Constitution off its central role in American governance correctly point out that the document has been responsible for the growth and success of the greatest free society in history. They also stress that the Constitution itself provides a vehicle for change via the amendment process.
An impatient President, as well as anti-traditionalist professors and pundits have made their distaste with strict compliance with the document clear. What they have failed to outline, however, is why they avoid using the procedure already outlined for change. The answer why is clear: the overwhelming number of Americans, whose consent they would need, would disagree.
Nor have they explained what would take the place of compliance with the planet’s most successful governing blueprint.