By Jacques Robichaud: Impeachment is the only procedural mechanism in the American system of government that can be used to remove from office a president who has willfully abused his executive power under the Constitution.
Technically there are other extraordinary measures that can be taken, but these measures cannot fully address in an expeditious manner the present crisis of executive abuse of power by this president.
In my view the problem we have today is not whether the case can be made for the impeachment of the president, but rather the frivolous arguments made by many commentators and political partisans that prevent us from moving forward. Here are some of these arguments.
I. Impeachment should not proceed because every president uses discretionary power while in office, and therefore every president technically breaks the law.
In my view, this is not a legitimate argument. If other presidents have willfully broken the law while they were in office, then they should also have faced impeachment. This failure to impeach past presidents who have acted unlawfully should not be interpreted as a blank check for all future presidents, but rather as a failure of the constitutional process at the time. The current office holder cannot point to the lawless actions of past presidents as a justification for his own lawless actions.
II. This president cannot be impeached because of his race
Impeachment of this president would be interpreted by many in the media and the culture at large as a racist action. If we accept the argument that this president cannot be impeached because of his race, this implies that the rule of law is not universal in its application. Simply put, we are saying the rule of law should apply for some presidents, but not for others. And if this argument holds, then it begs the question: which future presidents should also be exempt from facing impeachment? Should there be a special exemption for the first female president? What if a transgendered person is elected president someday? Should the first transgendered president be made to face impeachment if he/she breaks the law?
My view on the matter is that no president should be above the law for any reason. The rule of law should apply equally to all presidents.
III. The new president would be worse
President Joe Biden would be a worse president than the current president. Here again the argument is based on speculation and opinion. Whether Joe Biden would be a worse president than Barack Obama is beside the point. The question should be: is president Joe Biden following the rule of law and respecting the constitutional limits of his office? If the answer to this question is yes, then president Biden is a clear improvement from president Obama. If the answer is no, then impeachment should also be on the table for this office holder.
IV. The votes are not there to impeach.
This argument is also beside the point. Even if a majority of senators refuse to try the president because they share the same party allegiances as he does, this does not mean that impeachment proceedings are not warranted. If some lawmakers decide to put their party allegiances above the rule of law and the Constitution, then aren’t they themselves guilty of compromising the democratic process and the rule of law?
Even if the impeachment process does not lead to the removal of the president from office, this does not necessarily mean that the process has been a failure. It depends wholly on what the evidence demonstrates. It also sends a clear message to the current president and to all future presidents that the rule of law does matter, and that failure to follow the law has consequences.
Impeachment should proceed if it can be demonstrated that the president has willfully broken the law and abused his powers under the Constitution.
This should be the only criteria by which we judge the actions of the president.