I have 5 boys and all of them wear their hair short. With haircuts at $10 – $15 each, it didn’t take too long for me to think about buying a set of hair clippers and cutting their hair myself! So one day, I did just that. I bought the clippers, brought them home and lined the boys up and cut all their hair. Of course, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but how hard could it be? When I was done, I will admit the results didn’t look exactly like the picture in my mind, but hey, think of all the money we saved! The next time they needed haircuts, none of the boys were excited to let me try again. I made the statement, “Oh, so I guess now I am fired from cutting hair??” My daughter replied, “Daddy, you’re not fired, you just don’t have any customers!” I guess I must have missed the mark! Many times, our officials in office who have sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, miss the mark and leave all of us stuck with a result far worse than a bad haircut.
Another role of Congress
In our articles, “A Rare and Fun Day in a Constitutional Nerd Kinda Way”, and “What CAN Congress Do?”, we considered Congress, and the powers given to them by the U.S. Constitution. We discussed the checks and balances on the Judiciary in our article entitled, “One out of Five Stars”. I thought today we would consider one of the most powerful Constitutional tools to hold officials in line, an important part of our nation’s system of checks and balances, which is Congress’ role of impeachment. Article 1, Section 2 tells us “The House of Representatives shall have the sole Power of Impeachment”. Section 3 of Article 1 tells us the Senate, “Shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments”. So if a President, Vice President, Federal Judge, or other official, has missed the mark of Constitutional activity and they “have no customers”, or just plain need to be fired, that is the sole job – the very important duty – of Congress alone. This duty of Congress is very important because it serves the purpose of holding the Executive and Judicial branches in line with the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton called impeachment, “a Bridle in the hands of the Legislature.” In other words, this is something we can use to restrain our officials that are getting out of control.
The Constitution mentions impeachment in several places, and says specifically in Article 2, Section 4, that impeachment is for, “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” As with so many things, let’s not forget the principle of Original Intent. We should look at what “Crimes” and “Misdemeanors” meant to our founders.
A search of Webster’s 1828 Dictionary sheds some light on their working definition of “Crime” and “Misdemeanor”:
Crime– “An act which violates a law, divine or human; an act which violates a rule of moral duty; an offense against the laws of right, prescribed by God or man, or against any rule of duty plainly implied in those laws. A crime may consist in omission or neglect, as well as in commission, or positive transgression. The commander of a fortress who suffers the enemy to take possession by neglect, is as really criminal, as one who voluntarily opens the gates without resistance.
But in a more common and restricted sense, a crime denotes an offense, or violation of public law, of a deeper and more atrocious nature; a public wrong; or a violation of the commands of God, and the offenses against the laws made to preserve the public rights; as treason, murder, robbery, theft, arson, etc. The minor wrongs committed against individuals or private rights, are denominated trespasses, and the minor wrongs against public rights are called misdemeanors.”
Misdemeanor– “In law, an offense of a less atrocious nature than a crime. Crimes and misdemeanors are mere synonymous terms; but in common usage, the word crime is made to denote offenses of a deeper and more atrocious dye, while small faults and omissions of less consequence are comprised under the gentler name of misdemeanors.”
I find it interesting that a “crime” can be one of several things… it can be a violation of divine law (God’s Word). It can be a violation of human law, or it can be a violation of a duty that is “plainly implied” in those laws. I think this definition of “crime” includes lots of things we could and should impeach for today. Then, underlining all of this, misdemeanors are also a reason given where Congress may impeach, and those are “less atrocious” than even crimes. So, as I read this, it seems to me that Congress should get busy impeaching some folks.
federal officials today
Can you think of any federal officials who have violated God’s divine law? Can you think of any who have violated man’s law? Can you think of any that have failed to fulfill their duty? (Remember among other things, all of them have a duty to uphold their oath to support the Constitution!) Finally, can you think of any officials who have done any of these things perhaps to a lesser degree that don’t qualify as crimes? If we answer yes to any of these questions, then we should have our Representative in Congress start up an impeachment!
In our world where federal officials are absolutely trashing God’s laws, where they are flagrantly ignoring their sworn duty to support the Constitution of the United States, where they are not only breaking every rule of moral duty, but actively working to completely throw out the morals upon which this nation was built and to replace those morals with evil… let’s just say we should have our Representatives busy doing some impeaching…
When it comes to federal officials that violate these principles, understand that is exactly the reason why our founders gave this duty of impeachment to our Representatives. They are there to represent you, so don’t hesitate to reach out to them to let them know your thoughts on this subject. Together, let’s use this tool as a restraint on those government officials committing crimes and misdemeanors, and let them know not only do they not have customers, but they are fired!