Pelosi's Toothless Threat to Sue Bush Imperils Constitution

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    dlindorff
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By Dave Lindorff

The bankruptcy of the Democratic Party leadership’s position in Congress on impeachment was revealed in stark terms yesterday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she would sue the president in court if he resorted to a signing statement to kill the next version of Congress’s Iraq funding bill.

Suing Bush over a signing statement, given the number of Federalist judges that this administration has named to the federal district and appellate courts, and to the US Supreme Court, is not just an exercise in futility; it is a dangerous tactic which could backfire disastrously by leading to a ruling that it’s perfectly constitutional for a president to ignore laws passed by the Congress. Does Pelosi really want to risk such a catastrophe?

The only solution is to impeach the president over his signing statements, and there is no need to wait for the next one to take action. Bush has invalidated more than 1200 laws or parts of laws passed by Congress since 2001 using what are called “signing statements.”

Republican apologists for the president have noted that other presidents, including Clinton, also issued signing statements, which is true. But they fail to mention that other presidents did not use those signing statements to then ignore or invalidate laws passed by Congress. They merely used them to register their view that a law, or a part of a law, was unconstitutional.

Bush has made a wholly different argument. For the past six years, he has been claiming that because he is commander in chief in a time of war, by which he means the so-called “war” on terror, he has had what he calls “unitary executive” authority. By this he means that legislative and judicial power, as well as executive power, are all in his hands for as long as the threat of terrorism is with us. Since this “war” on terror never really ends, what he is claiming is that separation of powers no longer exists in America. Indeed, the Constitution itself is set aside. The president is a dictator during his term of office, and Congress is just a debating club.

At this point, it should be clear to anyone, including Speaker Pelosi, that the only remedy for this gross abuse of power by the president is impeachment.

Unfortunately for America and the Constitution, Pelosi is still hamstrung by her foolish insistence that “impeachment is off the table.”

As long as she continues to refuse to allow impeachment of President Bush, she cannot hope to stop the war, restore habeas corpus, undo the Military Commissions Act, stop illegal spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, or win passage of any significant legislation to deal with global warming. She cannot really do anything, because Bush will simply issue signing statements and use his claim of “unitary executive authority” to invalidate any legislation passed by Congress.

Pelosi needs to be told by her colleagues and by all Americans who care about the survival of the Constitution that this is not an issue for the courts. It is an issue that demands impeachment.

The Founding Fathers were clear that where abuse of power occurs, it is Congress, not the Courts, that must have the responsibility to take corrective action. Abuse of power is not a violation of the law, and so it is not something that the courts are likely to handle properly even under the best of circumstances. Abuse of power is a so-called “political crime,” which requires a political response, which is precisely why the Founders included an impeachment clause in the Constitution.

Pelosi has ducked this issue for long enough, and now she’s about to do serious damage to the nation because of her political cowardice.

Basta! Enough!

If the American republic is to survive, it is time to impeach this president on a charge of abuse of power.


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DAVE LINDORFF, a Philadelphia-based investigative reporter and columnist, is co-author with Barbara Olshansky of “The Case for Impeachment: the Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and due out in paperback in three weeks). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net <http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/> and at www.counterpunch.org <http://www.counterpunch.org/> .

Comments

I would have to agree....

  • Bren5035's picture
    Bren5035
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I would have to agree that Bush has the courts stacked so it's time to pick up the phone and call Pelosi's office and voice your opion as I just did. We have to stop the lying ba$tard now. The funding bill must have a time table for departure. We can't let Bush go on killing our soldiers (yes I said Bush is killing them, he's the one that lied us into this mess) at the 100 per month rate we are currently seeing. This is outrageous! So let's bombard her office with calls........202-225-0100.

agree

  • marct19's picture
    marct19
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The other issue that dems do not want to conquer is their lack of ability to react to the action of this regime (meaning bush) the cowardly way they passively take stands on these issues is going to be the demise of this party. Hey let's face it the door was open to republicans against Clinton (although I will say feble at best) but they took it. The dems can slam these idiot republicans, but they seem to lack the balls to do so. The republicans preached..."This president (clinton) got a blowjob in the oval office. You do realize they won the election solely on the power of values and beliefs?? WOW, that should say alot about american voters. Now the door has  swung to the dems...they can't seem to walk through it. They brought no values nor morals did these republicans. Americans voted once last year for what they wanted. Those in the seats now need to step up and slay the dragon so to speak. But will they? And if they fumble this perfect opportunity they will look weak and they will lose out yet again. So let's see who has the testicular fortitude to do such. I know they want to be P.C, but damn. This is like an underhand pitch to Alex Rodriguez....hit this fucker out of the park.