Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Infringement Society

      "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Unites States."  (Article II, Section 1, Clause 8)

     At high noon on the twentieth, the gentleman from New York stood in opposition to the emoluments clause* and the take care clause as well.  (Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 & Article II, Section 3)  From the moment His Excellency said, "So help me God" he was in violation of the Constitution.  The man who was supposed to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" chose to execute "the supreme law of the land."  (Article II, Section 3 & Article VI, Clause 2)

     This is not an episode of The Sopranos.  But because he hangs around with Joey No Socks, the gentleman from New York has learned that it is better to put out a hit than to be a target.^  And he acted--with "knowledge aforethought"--despite multiple warnings.**  Instead of Inauguration Day, it was Ignoranation Day.

     High crimes and misdemeanors "are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust."  (Article II, Section 4 & Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, No. 65)  But the oath was dismissed with a wave of his hand.  After all, how can one "preserve, protect and defend" the very thing he upends?

     Alexander Hamilton contrasted the King of Great Britain with a President of the United States.  "The one has no particle of spiritual jurisdiction; the other is the supreme head and governor of the national church!"  (The Federalist Papers, No. 69; emphasis added)  Thus, expulsion or a ban was at least an understandable option--for a monarch.  But the President was to have "no particle of spiritual jurisdiction."  And Article VI, Clause 3 should have given pause to one inclined to make a contrary assertion: "but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."  An honest man would have noticed.  But a demagogue was not discouraged by the First Amendment written by a demigod.  Nevertheless, James Madison shines light into the darkness.

     "The civil government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success whilst the number, the industry and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state."

     Is the Executive Order the only reason the Acting Attorney General was fired?  Or is there a better way to stop a counterintelligence investigation of Russian involvement in an American election and penetration of an administration?  So the gentleman from New York may be in jeopardy because of the daily double, an impeachable and criminal offense--obstruction of justice; and James Madison makes the case.

     "The danger then consists merely in this: the President can displace from office a man whose merits require that he should be continued in it.  What will be the motives which the President can feel for such abuse of his power, and the restraints that operate to prevent it?  In the first place, he will be impeachable by this House, before the Senate, for such an act of mal-administration; for I contend that the wanton removal of meritorious officers would subject him to impeachment and removal from his own high trust.  But what can be his motives for displacing a worthy man?  It must be that he may fill the place with an unworthy creature of his own."  (Speech in the House of Representatives, June 17, 1789)

     The Framers stressed the importance of character, and their system was designed to guard against the unlikely possibility of someone with "(t)alents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity" being raised to the highest office, and provided the proper response should that happen.  (Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, No. 68)  The balance between virtue and vice matters in the life of a nation, and James Madison weighed the consequences of both.

     "When we consider that the First Magistrate is to be appointed at present by the suffrages of three millions of people, and in all human probability in a few years time by double that number, it is not to be presumed that a vicious or bad character will be selected.  If the government of any country on the face of the earth was ever effectually guarded against the election of ambitious or designing characters to the first office of the state, I think it may with truth be said to be the case under the Constitution of the United States.  With all the infirmities incident to a popular election, corrected by the particular mode of conducting it, as directed under the present system, I think we may fairly calculate, that the instances will be very rare in which an unworthy man will receive that mark of the public confidence which is required to designate the President of the United States.  Where the people are disposed to give so great an elevation to one of their fellow citizens, I own that I am not afraid to place my confidence in him, especially when I know he is impeachable for any crime or misdemeanor, before the Senate, at all times, and that at all events he is impeachable before the community at large every four years, and liable to be displaced if his conduct shall have given umbrage during the time he has been in office."  (Speech in the House of Representatives, June 16, 1789)

     Those of us who have taken the oath to support and defend the Constitution--"against all enemies, foreign and domestic"--are not relieved of that duty when our service ends, for there is no statute of limitations on upholding the supreme law of the land.  Thus, it is altogether fitting and proper to call for the gentleman from New York to resign, and if he fails to do so, to seek invocation of Section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, or face impeachment, trial, conviction, removal, "and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law."  (Article I, Section 3, Clause 7)

(c)2017 Marvin D. Jones.  All rights reserved.