March 8, 2021

Will You Be the Next Private Citizen to Be Impeached?

Sen. Rand Paul pushed forward a Point of Order, challenging the Constitutionality of the Impeachment against former President Donald J. Trump. Strategically, Sen. Mitch McConnell had Constitutional Scholar Jonathan Turley in to explain how the whole process they were in was not Constitutional. While Paul’s Point of Order failed 55 to 45, it signaled that Trump would not be removed from an office he doesn’t hold– or barred from running again– and signaled that most of the Senate believes you can impeach Judges and Presidents, but not private citizens.

In support of that argument, it’s extremely important to remember that there is a “fundamental principle of our representative democracy . . . ‘that the people should choose whom they please to govern them.'” I’m quoting the Supreme Court case rejecting term limits for members of Congress, which was quoting a case about Congress’s power to exclude someone the people have elected. The internal quote — “the people should choose whom they please to govern them” — comes from Alexander Hamilton, arguing in favor of ratifying the Constitution

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I think the presumption should always be against a constitutional interpretation that would restrict the power of the people to choose whom they please. The Senate would need to strain the other way to disqualify Private Citizen Trump from running for office again, and that betrays a lack of respect for the people, for the “fundamental principle of our representative democracy.” Enough fretting that the people can’t be trusted evaluating Trump as one of our options. Let the members of Congress get on with proving that they deserved the trust we the people put in them.

“My Democratic colleagues would have rightfully objected to Republicans – when they controlled Congress – using the impeachment power to disqualify former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from running for president in 2016 because of her email controversy.”

The Constitution is pretty clear on requirements for who can run, and they expected the people to be able to choose who leads them (as long as they are 35 and a natural-born citizen). If the House is saying that enough people would vote to put Trump back into power despite what happened at the Capitol on January 6th, what does it say about their view of the electorate?

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