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New Hampshire Legislature to Vote on Impeachment

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

New Hampshire Legislature to Vote on Impeaching Bush and Cheney

On April 16, the New Hampshire legislature will consider House Resolution 24, a resolution petitioning Congress to commence impeachment procedures. Introduced by veteran legislator Betty Hall, 87, its successful passage would create U.S. history.

For those interested in finding out more about events between now and April 16, and wanting to add their support, contact details are available at hall4impeachment.com There will be a rally in Concord, NH, on April 14. For details, email info [at] impeachthem.com

According to Phil Burk, who created the www.impeachBush.tv website right after the Florida election debacle in 2000, more than 88 towns and cities have now passed impeachment resolutions. In an email interview, I asked him about the legal standing of such resolutions, their history, and the consequences if both a President and Vice President are impeached.

As for the resolution’s importance, Burk says at the end of the interview:
Some people wonder why we are pursuing impeachment when Bush and Cheney will be leaving office in 2009. But impeachment is critical because if they leave office without being impeached or forced to resign, then it will leave in place a dangerous precedent. Future Presidents will be able to mislead us into war, spy on us without warrants, torture prisoners with no hope for trials, and then point to George Bush and say "He did it. So can we." If we do not want future Presidents, of any party, to have that power then we must act now.

::Scoop Interview with Phil Burk::

SCOOP:
First, can you tell me a little about your background, in particular how it relates to your knowledge of constitutional law and interest in impeachment?

BURK:
I became interested in impeachment right after the election in November of 2000. I watched the way Bush tried to block the counting of votes in Florida. It made me wonder whether he respected democracy enough to be President. So I created the "http://www.ImpeachBush.TV/" website in December of 2000 just in case things went badly.

For several years I studied and filled the site with information about the Constitution and the history and process of impeachment. As Bush's Presidency unfolded I started documenting his various crimes. When the Iraq war started it became clear that he was committing impeachable offenses and work on the site accelerated.

I eventually connected with other activists and have been involved in national organizing for impeachment. I have also done a lot of work with other people on local impeachment resolutions. Only the US House of Representative can impeach a President or Vice President. But cities, towns and states are free to petition the federal government and ask them to impeach.

Over 88 towns and cities have now passed impeachment resolutions, many based on model resolutions downloaded from our site. I have also helped state legislatures in California, Washington, and New Mexico draft impeachment resolutions.

You can find more information about these local resolutions on my site at:
http://www.impeachbush.tv/impeach/bystate.html

My background is actually in the software business. So I have spent a lot of time writing contracts and software design documents. The Constitution is both a contract between the government and the people, and a design document for a new nation. It is an incredibly well crafted document that I think everyone should read.

SCOOP:
Given that the three key players in the House who have responsibility for moving Kucinich's Cheney impeachment resolution forward--Hoyer, Pelosi, and Conyers--have shown no sign of doing so, how will a memorial from a state be able to fare better?

BURK:
Members of Congress take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. That is their primary duty and loyalty to the Constitution should trump party loyalty. We have seen several politicians who initially resisted impeachment, but after intense lobbying changed their mind and come out in support of impeachment. Kucinich and Wexler listened to people across America and eventually became champions for impeachment and executive oversight.

We feel that Pelosi and Conyers are starting to listen. They have been getting lots of letters and phone calls, and seeing many cities pass impeachment resolutions. It is quite possible that when a state like New Hampshire passes one that it will push them over the edge and they will decide to fulfill their oath of office.

I believe that Conyers and Pelosi are honorable people and that they will eventually do the right thing. I hope so because their inaction would do more to undermine the Constitution than the crimes of Bush and Cheney. The Founding Fathers predicted that a President might abuse their power. That is why they added impeachment to the Constitution. When a criminal breaks a law and the law is enforced then it strengthens the law. But when Pelosi says "impeachment is off the table" then she is saying that the law will not be enforced. That takes away the power of the law. Thus Pelosi's inaction is doing more to harm our Constitutional system of law then the actions of President Bush.

SCOOP:
Have any impeachment petitions or memorials been delivered to Congress in the past eight years? If so, what was their fate?

BURK:
Yes. Many of the local impeachment resolutions have been sent to the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Part of her job is to accept petitions from the country at large. The petitions are sent from her office to the Clerk of the House where they are entered in the Congressional Record and then referred to the appropriate committee. Impeachment resolutions go to the Judiciary Committee. You can see many impeachment resolutions in the Congressional Record, for example this page:

http://www.impeachbush.tv/archives/cong_record_070719.pdf

The Judiciary Committee is not forced to act on these resolutions. But each petition builds pressure on the committee. We are confident that they will eventually start impeachment hearings as a result of this pressure. Our Constitution is too important for us to give up hope.

We know that it is possible because in 1903 a resolution from the state of Florida was sent to Congress asking for the impeachment of Federal Judge Charles Swayne. Representative William Lamar of Florida called for impeachment and it was approved. That is why Jefferson's Manual, the House Rules Book, states in Section 603 that "there are various methods of setting an impeachment in motion: [including] by charges transmitted from the legislature of a State." The effort to pass these local resolutions is called the "Section 603 Movement".

SCOOP:
If Bush and Cheney were successfully impeached, the Speaker of the House becomes President. Does Section 2 of the XXV Amendment kick in, i.e., would Pelosi then nominate a Vice President, to be confirmed by both Houses of Congress?

BURK:
Pelosi would become President only if there was a sudden loss of both the President and Vice President. But in the case of impeachment, this can be avoided by the Republicans. Recall when Spiro Agnew and Nixon were being charged. Spiro Agnew resigned and Nixon appointed Ford. Then Nixon resigned and Ford became President. Then Ford pardoned Nixon. I suspect that Cheney and Bush would resign if faced with the certainty of a trial.

Some people wonder why we are pursuing impeachment when Bush and Cheney will be leaving office in 2009. But impeachment is critical because if they leave office without being impeached or forced to resign, then it will leave in place a dangerous precedent. Future Presidents will be able to mislead us into war, spy on us without warrants, torture prisoners with no hope for trials, and then point to George Bush and say "He did it. So can we." If we do not want future Presidents, of any party, to have that power then we must act now.

*************

rosalea.barker@gmail.com
--PEACE—

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