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|EarlG ADMIN (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore||Tue Dec-20-05 10:57 AM
|Those were the days: House Republican statements on Clinton's impeachment|
Edited on Tue Dec-20-05 11:19 AM by EarlG
It's interesting how these statements read in light of recent events...
Rep. Marge Roukema (R-N.J.):
And we all share in the emotional trauma getting back to our subject of this constitutional crisis in which we are ensnared. But this cup cannot pass us by, we can't avoid it, we took an oath of office, Mr. Speaker, to uphold the Constitution under our democratic system of government, separation of powers, and checks and balances.
And we must fulfill that oath and send the articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial. Now I say personally, and all of you who know me, and a lot of you do, I've been around a long time; I bear no personal animosity towards the president. But we in the House did not seek this constitutional confrontation.
Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.):
How can we expect a Boy Scout to honor his oath if elected officials don't honor theirs? How can we expect a business executive to honor a promise when the chief executive abandons his or hers?
Rep. Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.):
How did this great nation of the 1990s come to be? It all happened Mr. Speaker, because freedom works. . . . But freedom, Mr. Speaker, freedom depends upon something. The rule of law. And that's why this solemn occasion is so important. For today we are here to defend the rule of law. According to the evidence presented by our fine Judiciary Committee, the president of the United States has committed serious transgressions.
Among other things, he took an oath to God, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And then he failed to do so. Not once, but several times. If we ignore this evidence, I believe we undermine the rule of law that is so important that all America is. Mr. Speaker, a nation of laws cannot be ruled by a person who breaks the law. Otherwise, it would be as if we had one set of rules for the leaders and another for the governed. We would have one standard for the powerful, the popular and the wealthy, and another for everyone else.
This would belie our ideal that we have equal justice under the law. That would weaken the rule of law and leave our children and grandchildren with a very poor legacy. I don't know what challenges they will face in their time, but I do know they need to face those challenges with the greatest constitutional security and the soundest rule of fair and equal law available in the history of the world. And I don't want us to risk their losing that....
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI):
The framers of the Constitution devised an elaborate system of checks and balances to ensure our liberty by making sure that no person, institution or branch of government became so powerful that a tyranny could be established in the United States of America. Impeachment is one of the checks the framers gave the Congress to prevent the executive or judicial branches from becoming corrupt or tyrannical.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas):
When someone is elected president, they receive the greatest gift possible from the American people, their trust. To violate that trust is to raise questions about fitness for office. My constituents often remind me that if anyone else in a position of authority -- for example, a business executive, a military officer of a professional educator -- had acted as the evidence indicates the president did, their career would be over. The rules under which President Nixon would have been tried for impeachment had he not resigned contain this statement: "The office of the president is such that it calls for a higher level of conduct than the average citizen in the United States."
Rep. Charles Canady (R-Fla.):
Many have asked why we are even here in these impeachment proceedings. They have asked why we can't just rebuke the president and move on. That's a reasonable question. And I certainly understand the emotions behind that question. I want to move on. Every member of this committee wants to move on. We all agree with that.
But the critical question is this: Do we move on under the Constitution, or do we move on by turning aside from the Constitution? Do we move on in faithfulness to our own oath to support and defend the Constitution, or do we go outside the Constitution because it seems more convenient and expedient?
Why are we here? We are here because we have a system of government based on the rule of law, a system of government in which no one -- no one -- is above the law. We are here because we have a constitution.
A constitution is often a most inconvenient thing. A constitution limits us when we would not be limited. It compels us to act when we would not act. But our Constitution, as all of us in this room acknowledge, is the heart and soul of the American experiment. It is the glory of the political world. And we are here today because the Constitution requires that we be here. We are here because the Constitution grants the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment. We are here because the impeachment power is the sole constitutional means granted to Congress to deal with the misconduct of the chief executive of the United States.
In many other countries, a matter such as this involving the head of government would have been quietly swept under the rug. There would, of course, be some advantages to that approach. We would all be spared embarrassment, indignity and discomfort. But there would be a high cost if we followed that course of action. Something would be lost. Respect for the law would be subverted, and the foundation of our Constitution would be eroded.
The impeachment power is designed to deal with exactly such threats to our system of government. Conduct which undermines the integrity of the president's office, conduct by the chief executive which sets a pernicious example of lawlessness and corruption is exactly the sort of conduct that should subject a president to the impeachment power.
Rep. Bob Ingliss (R-S.C.):
I think is important to point out here is that we have a constitutional obligation, a constitutional obligation to act. And there are lots of folks who would counsel, Listen, let's just move along. It's sort of the Clinton so-what defense. So what? I committed perjury. So what? I broke the law. Let's just move along. I believe we've got a constitutional obligation to act.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.):
Mr. Chairman, this is a somber occasion. I am here because it is my constitutional duty, as it is the constitutional duty of every member of this committee, to follow the truth wherever it may lead. Our Founding Fathers established this nation on a fundamental yet at the time untested idea that a nation should be governed not by the whims of any man but by the rule of law. Implicit in that idea is the principle that no one is above the law, including the chief executive
Since it is the rule of law that guides us, we must ask ourselves what happens to our nation if the rule of law is ignored, cheapened or violated, especially at the highest level of government. Consider the words of former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who was particularly insightful on this point. "In a government of laws, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. If government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law. It invites every man to become a law unto himself."
Mr. Chairman, we must ask ourselves what our failure to uphold the rule of law will say to the nation, and most especially to our children, who must trust us to leave them a civilized nation where justice is respected.
Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.):
You know, there are people out all across America every day that help define the nation's character, and they exercise common-sense virtues, whether it's honesty, integrity, promise-keeping, loyalty, respect, accountability, they pursue excellence, they exercise self-discipline. There is honor in a hard day's work. There's duty to country. Those are things that we take very seriously.
So those are things that the founders also took seriously. Yet every time I reflect upon the wisdom of the founding fathers, I think their wisdom was truly amazing. They pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to escape the tyranny of a king. They understood the nature of the human heart struggles between good and evil.
So the founders created a system of checks and balances and accountability. If corruption invaded the political system, a means was available to address it. The founders felt impeachment was so important it was included in six different places in the Constitution. The founders set the standard for impeachment of the president and other civil officers as treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.
The House of Representatives must use this standard in circumstances and facts of the president's conduct to determine if the occupant of the Oval Office is fit to continue holding the highest executive office of this great country.
Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.):
In the next few days I will cast some of the most important votes of my career. Some believe these votes could result in a backlash and have serious political repercussions. They may be right. But I will leave the analysis to others. My preeminent concern is that the Constitution be followed and that all Americans, regardless of their position in society, receive equal and unbiased treatment in our courts of law. The fate of no president, no political party, and no member of Congress merits a slow unraveling of the fabric of our constitutional structure. As John Adams said, we are a nation of laws, not of men.
Our nation has survived the failings of its leaders before, but it cannot survive exceptions to the rule of law in our system of equal justice for all. There will always be differences between the powerful and the powerless. But imagine a country where a Congress agrees the strong are treated differently than the weak, where mercy is the only refuge for the powerless, where the power of our positions govern all of our decisions. Such a country cannot long endure. God help us to do what is right, not just for today, but for the future of this nation and for those generations that must succeed us.
Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.):
I suggest impeachment is like beauty: apparently in the eye of the beholder. But I hold a different view. And it's not a vengeful one, it's not vindictive, and it's not craven. It's just a concern for the Constitution and a high respect for the rule of law. ... as a lawyer and a legislator for most of my very long life, I have a particular reverence for our legal system. It protects the innocent, it punishes the guilty, it defends the powerless, it guards freedom, it summons the noblest instincts of the human spirit.
The rule of law protects you and it protects me from the midnight fire on our roof or the 3 a.m. knock on our door. It challenges abuse of authority. It's a shame "Darkness at Noon" is forgotten, or "The Gulag Archipelago," but there is such a thing lurking out in the world called abuse of authority, and the rule of law is what protects you from it. And so it's a matter of considerable concern to me when our legal system is assaulted by our nation's chief law enforcement officer, the only person obliged to take care that the laws are faithfully executed.
On edit: how could I miss Tom DeLay?
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.):
I believe that this nation sits at a crossroads. One direction points to the higher road of the rule of law. Sometimes hard, sometimes unpleasant, this path relies on truth, justice and the rigorous application of the principle that no man is above the law.
Now, the other road is the path of least resistance. This is where we start making exceptions to our laws based on poll numbers and spin control. This is when we pitch the law completely overboard when the mood fits us, when we ignore the facts in order to cover up the truth.
Shall we follow the rule of law and do our constitutional duty no matter unpleasant, or shall we follow the path of least resistance, close our eyes to the potential lawbreaking, forgive and forget, move on and tear an unfixable hole in our legal system? No man is above the law, and no man is below the law. That's the principle that we all hold very dear in this country.
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