A Constitutional Conundrum - This Could Be Fun

Jimklag

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I just came to the realization that 1868 was a leap year, so from the "crime" to the opening of the trial took 12 days. Has there ever been justice so speedily meted out before or since?
 

jgoodguy

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None... Johnson would have been removed through the Consitutionial mechanism of impeachment there is no recourse that can be taken. He would have been removed even if the charges were false as long as the Consitutionial impeachment process was followed... If the Consitutionial impeachment process was not followed than you have a crisis...

IMHO Because of the vague nature of impeachment, if the House passes the bill of impeachment then it is true. If the Senate convicts then the President is guilty of it. It is a political mechanism thus it is difficult to apply legal terms to it.
 

jgoodguy

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It would be the Supreme Court's duty and function to declare laws passed by Congress as unconstitutional. The executive branch would have to enforce the law enacted by Congress until it was legally challenged and adjudicated by the Supreme Court. In response to the other question in terms of Constitutional succession, the initial Act of 1792 provided for the presidential succession starting with the third in line being the President of the Senate, leader of the upper chamber, followed by the Speaker of the House, the leader of the lower chamber. This act was further amended in 1886 with new legislation that amended the old law to add the President's cabinet members into the line of succession starting with the Secretary of State. After several other legislative changes and a Presidential assassination in 1963, the final word on the Presidential line of succession was finalized with the passage of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1967. I am surprised that the Congress and the Supreme Court did not clarify the line of succession earlier especially during Lincoln's Presidency with the numerous attempts to either kidnap or assassinate him or his cabinet members by the Confederate government and their sympathizers. David.

IMHO It is important to understand the President, the Congress and SCOTUS are sovereigns and it is difficult for one branch to force action on another branch. The President cannot be arrested because he controls law enforcement, Congress can appropriate money for something, but the President can refuse to spend it. The President is not supposed to spend money unappropriated for that purpose. No one can censor SCOTUS for its decisions. SCOTUS judges and Presidents can be impeached for bad behavior with great discretion on what bad behavior is. President Andrew Jackson is famous for ordering Indian Removal from Georgia in face of a SCOTUS order not to.
 

jgoodguy

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Jimklag. I have not read much about the Johnson Administration and his impeachment proceedings. Nevertheless, former Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William Rehnquist wrote an excellent book about Johnson's impeachment which I will have to find and read before providing further future commentary. David.
There are online resources for that too.
 

jgoodguy

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No, in the event he believes it to be unconstitutional, he should go to court to resolve the question. With Johnson, it's clear the whole point of the law was to try and manufacture an excuse to impeach him. It was a congressional power grab.
Agree with the observation that it was a Constitutional power grab. If a majority of the House and 2/3 of the Senate loath the President he is toast anyway.
 

jgoodguy

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As an aside, Senator Ross who cast the deciding vote to acquit Johnson, may not have been the upright, ethical hero that history has made him out to be. There was apparently a large slush fund created by Johnson's backers as a bribe fund for senators voting on impeachment. Here's a quote from constitutioncenter.org.

One theory is that Ross didn’t follow his constitutional conscience—he followed the cash. Ross may have been the beneficiary of a $150,000 slush fund set up by Johnson’s supporters.

In a 1999 article for Slate, writer David Greenberg pointed out another fact: Ross’s vote may not have been needed.

“At least four other senators were prepared to oppose conviction had their votes been needed—a fact that has been forgotten, maybe, because it doesn't square with the High Noon portrait of Ross as the man of principle facing down the mob,” Greenberg said.

It is normal for congress critters and their leaders to count noses on controversial matters so that they can vote to please their constituents or not upset them where their votes are not 'needed'.
 

Jimklag

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It is normal for congress critters and their leaders to count noses on controversial matters so that they can vote to please their constituents or not upset them where their votes are not 'needed'.
Yes. My guess is there was a Senate majority whip back in 1868 who got his comeuppance after not having the votes for conviction or at least not knowing that they didn't have the votes.
 
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