Civil Liberties

Impeach Vader?

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In Slate, credentialed conservative Bruce Fein makes the case for impeaching Vice President Dick Cheney. Fein's been a consistent critic of the Bush administration's power grabs for some time, so as far as the "ideological allies jumping ship" hook goes, this isn't exactly news. But this paragraph jumped out at me, if only for the the way it properly elucidates Cheney's absurd attempt to duck disclosure laws last week:

Take the vice president's preposterous theory that his office is outside the executive branch because it also exercises a legislative function. The same can be said of the president, who also exercises a legislative function in signing or vetoing bills passed by Congress. Under Cheney's bizarre reasoning, President Bush is not part of his own administration: The executive branch becomes acephalous. Today Cheney Chief of Staff David Addington refused to renounce that reasoning, instead laughably trying to diminish the importance of the legal question at issue.

Back in the good ol' days, conservatives took hacks at President Clinton's preposterous claim that his role as commander in chief made him part of the U.S. military, and therefore not compelled to testify in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Given the stakes there (blowjobs!), and here (illegal, warrantless spying on U.S. citizens), in retrospect, Clinton's legal chicanery seems almost quaint, doesn't it?

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  1. Clearly, the Vice President’s office is a shoggoth, capable of multifarious forms, all of them gelatinous and gibbering.

  2. 911 changed everything. All this complex legal maneuvering and ‘violation’ of civil rights is necessary in order to keep us safe from the terrorists and protect our freedoms. The terrorists are hiding everywhere and they are out to get us. They hate us because of our freedoms. Let freedom ring.

  3. I’ll bite. The standards for high office should be, well, high. Clinton should’ve been removed for perjuring himself, but Bush and Cheney appear to have done things at least as bad. So yes, impeaching and convicting all of the above makes perfect sense to me. Then again, I’m nuts to add the Office of the Censor to the government–just to kick people out for barely any reason at all.

    As for Lord Vader: “I did not have strangling relations with that admiral”.

  4. Bruce Fein was in the Justice Department when Ronald Reagan was President. Currently Bruce Fein works for the Ron Paul for President Committee.

  5. It just occurred to me that if it weren’t for big military expenditures and the enormous prison population, we would probably have the highest unemployment rate in the Western world. Maybe Cheney and his ultra-conservative ilk are all that’s keeping us afloat. Still, I say impeach him.

  6. Clinton’s legal chicanery seems almost quaint, doesn’t it?

    Well, it it was JUST the hummers, yes. But since NSA pre-dates the Bush administration I would say there is a long history of troubles.

    As to the notion of impeachment? If you want to throw Cheney on the Barbie then I would say you better line up every Senator, every Congress PERSON (‘cept Ron Paul and maybe my old buddy Ed Royce) and you ought to make the whole dang thing retroactive at least back to Lincoln, who makes GWB look like a wimp.

  7. Since before 9/11 when Bush was fucking our future with prescription drug addiction (where was the War On Drugs when we needed it?) I didn’t understand how anybody could continue to support the two faced lying bastard. With every passing day the mystery deepens. And I still say the whole administration needs to stand trial for war crimes.

  8. The Wine Commonsewer?,

    Congratulations on the federal trademark! I take it that you now endorse my plan to add the Censor as the fourth branch of government? Good, that makes two of us. You’d think a branch with the sole purpose of harrying, harassing, and removing bad actors from political office would be popular.

  9. Bergamot,

    I think it’s pretty obvious that no one would allow the VP to preside at his own trial. The SCOTUS would simply rule on the matter and be done with it.

  10. I think it’s pretty obvious that no one would allow the VP to preside at his own trial. The SCOTUS would simply rule on the matter and be done with it.

    I don’t think SCOTUS would touch the case with a ten-foot pole. They’d point to article I, section 5, clause 3 (which says that “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings”) and say that if the Senate wants to provide for a different officer to preside over the impeachment trial of the President of the Senate, they’re free to do so. (I haven’t looked them up, but for all I know the Rules of the Senate currently would prevent the VP from presiding in such a case.)

  11. Edward wrote:

    “It just occurred to me that if it weren’t for big military expenditures and the enormous prison population, we would probably have the highest unemployment rate in the Western world. Maybe Cheney and his ultra-conservative ilk are all that’s keeping us afloat. Still, I say impeach him.”

    Looks like Edward has never heard of Bastiat’s window. Time for some reading!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

  12. PL:

    Well, there is that whole “Constitution” thingy that requires him to preside. And the Supreme Court has previously ruled that parsing the procedural requirements for impeachment are a political matter that it cannot touch. Aside from that, sure!

    More to the point, the Senate has a great deal of leeway to decide what “preside” means, and could probably reduce Cheney to sitting in a high chair in the chamber during proceedings if it so desired. Short of that, though, he’d be the judge at his own trial. Which would be incredible fun.

  13. we can solve this conundrum by impeaching the supreme court, too.

  14. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the VP’s role is primarily non-functional, is it not? Aside from his single vote in the Senate, the VP has no actual authority last I checked.

    So what would impeaching him do, exactly? Someone else would make the Senate vote on behalf of the President, and Cheney would have to move out of his pixelated estate and into the Lincoln Bedroom, where he’d retain just as much influence as before if not more so.

  15. Sigh. This isn’t a mere procedural matter, and the SCOTUS doesn’t always dodge these sorts of issues. I bet $10 that if the issue arises, the SCOTUS does rule.

  16. I’m not sure I buy the notion that it’s preposterous that he wouldn’t be bound by an executive order sent from the desk of the president. Constitutionally, he’s an elected official, elected in a separate legal election from the president with his own duties and powers. (as meager as they might be) I imagine he’s entitled to organize the way he handles documents within his own office however he sees fit, within the bounds of the law. I don’t think he’s sub-commander in chief of the armed forces, nor is he able to issue binding orders to the FBI, CIA, The State Department, DOT, HUD or any other executive branch apparatus. I do find it kinda hilarious that people think he’s responsible for all sorts of serious crimes, crimes that he for the most part doesn’t have the ability to commit.

  17. Back in the good ol’ days, conservatives took hacks at President Clinton’s preposterous claim that his role as commander in chief made him part of the U.S. military, and therefore not compelled to testify in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.

    Was this after they criticized Clinton for not saluting troops because he was part of the military (even though he wasn’t).

  18. That’s not to say that the SCOTUS hasn’t dodged the impeachment issue before, and quite broadly. I just think that something like this is too obvious to ignore. The Constitution also explicitly exposes the VP to removal, so it makes little sense to interpret it as allowing him to preside over his own trial. Of course, if the Court did refuse to act, and the Senate, for some insane reason, allowed him to preside, then I think the precedent is clear that the Court would not hear any challenges to the impeachment process afterwards. Which is one reason I think it would be willing to rule on the matter ahead of time. Simply as an interpretative move.

    To be honest, I bet this matter would never come to a head, because the Senate would probably request the Court to resolve the matter. Or some other Constitutional-crisis-avoiding solution would be proposed.

  19. The VP doesn’t partake in the Senate trial following an impeachment of either the President or VP, the Chief Justice is the presiding officer, remember Rehnquest at the Clinton impeachment trial

  20. Randolph Carter,

    I always did get a Nyarlathotep vibe from Cheney…

  21. My guess is that the Supremes would rule that the VP is the presiding officer under the Constitution, and the Senate should decide the duties of the presiding officer during the trial.

    The Senate would probably decide that the duty of the presiding officer is to sit in the chair and bang the gavel to affirm the decisions of some Senator who is designated to actually manage the trial.

  22. My bad, it seems the Constitution only says the Chief Justice will preside on presidental trials – it seems like it would make sense to carry that rule over for trial of the VP too, you’d think the Founders would have though of that

  23. from Article I, Section 3:

    The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

    No mention of the VP…that’s awfully strange.

  24. You’re all forgetting about the Vice President’s inherent powers as both a member of the Executive and the Legislative Branches which, by a vote of two branches to one, makes him immune from any nonsense from the Judicial Branch. These finer legal points will be made more clear when the Bush Administration is forced to suspend elections and reluctantly continue into a third term.

  25. Didn’t he Emperor disolve the Senate when they tried to impeach Lord Vader 😉

  26. Dick Cheney is the whisperer in the dark!

  27. “I find your lack of faith disturbing” Lord Vader

    It’s all for a good cause, you’ll see, or if not, you’r ancestors will see.

    All citizens are recommended to watch foxnews for ideological purification.

  28. I continue to support the death penalty SOLELY for politicians. After all, that’s a choice nobody is forcing them to be politicians.

    Bush, Cheney, Gonzalez, Ashcroft, et al should get the firing squad.

    Then we got LOTS of senators and congress critters next in line.

  29. Why Warren, how do you really feel about GWB?

  30. Pro, thanks, and yes, politicians should be bullied as often as is possible. I make it a practice to vote NO on every local judge who comes up for confirmation. Not that it’s working., but still….

  31. I removeth thee.

  32. I break with thee, I break with thee, I break with thee…

    (throws dog poop on Cheney’s shoes)

  33. A national impeach Bush protest as a modern day Boston Tea Party.

    Drop rotten peaches on the local doorstep of your congress critters on July 4th.

    July 4th at 1pm EST nationally.

    Spread the word.

    The revolution will not be blogged so get off your asses and do something in the real world.

  34. Nancy Pelosi does NOT want to impeach Bush. Maybe if she sucked him off she would change her mind.

    Would someone please get George Bush a blow job so we can impeach him.

  35. Anon

    I knew one of the faithful would send me to sacred scripture. Thanks. Maybe I’ll be saved.

  36. On the “vice-president presides” issue, see my posts at
    http://groups.google.com/group/soc.history.what-if/msg/ff86cff9e6921f7f and
    http://groups.google.com/group/soc.history.what-if/msg/3698841c6cb0d113

    (Yes, I do have too much free time on my hands…)

  37. Welcome to orientation day here on the Joy O’ Death Star.

    Now there’s a few things we want to go over with you concerning Lord Vader.

    First and foremost, he thinks he has the power to strangle us. Truth is, he doesn’t.

    If he ever realized this, he would kill us with his light saber.

    Thus, to keep us safe, we’ll all pretend to get strangled. OK, let’s try a practice.

    Rest of this “Robot Chicken” sketch here.

  38. The guy says “they hate us for our freedom”. When the freedom”s all gone, what will they hate us for, stupidity? Dick Dick before he dicks you. Sound famiLIAR? I’m with Pat, somebody blow George.

  39. The problem with impeaching Bush is that you end up with a Dick for President.

  40. TrickyVic

    The trick is to impeach both of them.

  41. Balko, do you write for Bill Maher as well?

  42. The trick is to impeach both of them.

    Indeed, the country has gotten to the point that it deserves to get Nancy Pelosi for President.

  43. The country deserves more than an eagle with two right wings. A vote for a republicrat is a wasted vote. I think Balko writes out of a sense of indignation for freedoms squandered.

  44. After Bush, Paris Hilton would be an improvement. Bush makes Ms. Hilton look intelligent and articulate. That’s what the country has come to.

  45. first impeach Cheney, then replace him (preferably with Ron Paul)

    then impeach Bush, Cheney’s replacement takes over

    Pelosi stays in the House

  46. Indeed, the country has gotten to the point that it deserves to get Nancy Pelosi for President.

    That’s also an interesting scenario. If that actually happened, what would that do to the Democratic presidential race? Would Hillary et al be expected to drop out and let Pelosi run?

    If that happened, I think we’d finally see the smoke that’s been building up between her ears come shooting out. Either that or the cockroach-like being that controls her mind would crawl out of her left nostril and flee to its spaceship.

  47. in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Given the stakes there (blowjobs!),

    And whether the President can use the powers of his office obstruct justice and deny a citizen her right to have a trial conducted fairly — something that the folks at Reason were able to recognize back then.

    But that spoils the whole “it was just about sex” mantra.

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