Words matter

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As we are constantly reminded, words do matter. Sometimes choice of words can be used to define a debate.

Few people know Latin, and some may not know what “Quid Pro Quo” really means. Now before they can consider for themselves whether a “Quid Pro Quo” took place, it is first necessary to help them understand the terms. It is a technique to maximize confusion. Because a strange term is used, it is easier to convince people that no such event took place.

I was thumbing through “The Book of Virtues” by William Bennett and stumbled upon the following article: “The American’s Creed” written by Wil…

Now we are being told that the trial in the U.S. Senate regarding the impeachment of Donald Trump is a political event. A political trial.

Everyone is familiar with civil and criminal trials. Everyone knows about the right to a trial by jury that is guaranteed by Article III of the U.S. Constitution. Now we are hearing about a different type of trial. A Constitutional Trial. So important that it is defined in the Constitution itself.

It is not a “political trial.”

A political trial would be a trial outside the normal bounds of jurisprudence controlled by a political rather than a legal process. A process devoid of a basis in law and not designed to produce justice except as defined by the majority.

It is easy to know why some would prefer to call this a “political trial” or “political process”. These are loaded words.

With the House impeachment hearings in full swing, my colleague Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of U.C. Berkeley law school has noted several myths circulating about impeachment I think are worth sharing.

“Politics” is a word evoking disfavor among many. The Constitution is revered by most.

A Constitutional Trial is a lawfully founded third type of trial. This is a very special type of proceeding the basis of which is the United States Constitution. A Constitutional Trial brings justice for Constitutional crimes. Crimes against the Constitution. These are referred to as “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The United States Constitution is law. It is the supreme law of the land. The document itself establishes that fact in Article VI. There is no ambiguity.

Several parts of the Constitution itself set forth the rules to be followed. By definition, it is a process executed by politicians, but under direct instruction by the founding document of our great Republic. They are charged with being Constitutional jurors. The details of process are left to the Legislative branch of government. These are the Article I (House of Representatives), and Article II (Senate) legislative bodies.

The Article III (Federal Judicial Branch) has no role in the impeachment process. This was decided by the Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683.

 I am an alumni from Justin-Siena High School and I am honored to call Napa my home. I am currently a student in Washington D.C., working on C…

Whatever rules or process are adopted, they must comply with the mandate of our founding document, the U.S. Constitution.

Because the Article II, Section 4, impeachment process is a Constitutional process, a Constitutional trial, it imposes special responsibilities on the participants. Every Senator will be required to attend the trial as a trier of fact (juror), listen and pass judgment. Every one of the Senators will be required to sign an oath first established in 1798.

“I, [name], solemnly swear, (or affirm, as the case may be,) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of [name], I will do impartial justice, according to law.”

While it was tweaked in 1868 changing the ending, in effect and meaning are unchanged.

Recognizing the solemnity of the process, in 1986 the Senate added the requirement that each Senator must sign the oath in a special book that is permanently kept in the National Archives.

To treat this as political (read biased and partisan) would be to ignore the Constitutional mandate so clearly set forth. It may well be that impeachment would be improper, or even that it was brought for political reasons, but it is properly presented to the U.S. Senate, and must be respected as such.

Larry Drivon

Napa

Your favorite Napa Valley Register letters to the editor of 2019

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