JWR Jeff JacobyBen WattenbergRoger Simon
Mona CharenLinda Chavez

Paul Greenberg Larry ElderJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellMUGGERWalter Williams
Don FederCal Thomas
Political Cartoons
Left, Right & Center

Jewish World Review/Dec. 8, 1998/ 19 Kislev, 5759

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez Why the House must make sure Bubba gets his due punishment

A FEW YEARS AGO, a much anticipated rematch between the reigning welterweight champion Roberto Duran and challenger Sugar Ray Leonard ended abruptly in the eighth round when the champ threw up his arms, declaring, "No mas." No more. Duran was simply tired of being outmaneuvered by the skillful Leonard and decided to call it quits before the final bell.

According to the polls, most Americans would like members of Congress to pull a Roberto Duran on impeachment.

Virtually everyone concedes that Bill Clinton has won the political battle with the Republican-controlled Congress, and he will not be leaving office before January 20, 2001. So why shouldn't Congress just take a walk on impeachment? Certainly that would be the easy -- and politically expedient -- thing to do. It would also be the worst abrogation of congressional duty in the nation's history.

Bill Clinton has attacked the integrity and independence of the judicial system, and if he gets away with it, the separation of powers with its checks and balances ---- which is fundamental to American democracy -- will be irreparably weakened. The president lied under oath in court proceedings, not once but many times, not just in a civil deposition but before a grand jury investigating possible criminal wrongdoing. He also induced others to provide false testimony to the grand jury and to a federal court trying a civil case.

The president's actions do not merely constitute perjury or obstruction of justice as they would if anyone else had committed them. They are the willful assault of the chief executive on the judiciary. If the president can, with impunity, lie under oath in a judicial proceeding, the judiciary becomes subordinate to his power. In effect, he places himself above the law and not subject to it.

The Supreme Court in a 9-0 ruling determined that the president was not immune from civil suit, even during his term of office -- which is how Paula Jones' lawyers came to depose the president in January. By lying in his civil deposition, the president, in essence, overturned the court's ruling. Rather than announcing that he would not abide by the court's decision -- thus forcing an open constitutional crisis -- he surreptitiously denied the plaintiff her right to a fair hearing by intentionally lying under oath in his deposition.

But the president's sneak attack on the civil justice system pales in significance to his defiance of the criminal system. In testifying before the grand jury, the president enjoyed the same legal protection as all other persons in a criminal proceeding; namely, the right against self-incrimination. Knowing he had lied under oath in his civil deposition, the president could have invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions that would incriminate him. But he chose not to do so, preferring instead to lie again.

Lying under oath -- especially by someone sworn to faithfully execute the laws of the land -- is no ordinary crime. The courts administer oaths in the first place because truth-telling is crucial to a fair judicial system. Even lawbreakers are expected to tell the truth under oath, or say nothing at all. Unless witnesses can be counted on to be truthful, the entire judicial system collapses.

If the Congress does not impeach the president for having repeatedly lied under oath, it will send the clear message that he is exempt from the constraints of law. Ever since King John acceded to the demands of his nobles and signed the Magna Carta in 1215, the rule of law has been considered sacrosanct in Western government. No one -- not even the king himself -- is above the law.

The House of Representatives does not have to determine what punishment Bill Clinton deserves for having betrayed the American people and attempted to subvert the judicial system. But the House must vote articles of impeachment or else bear responsibility for allowing this president to usurp the balance of power in our system.


12/02/98: Remember when libraries were for expanding the mind!?
11/26/98: When Thanksgiving means more than commercialism
11/17/98: To Ken S. --- if you'll only listen
11/10/98: What did you expect?
11/04/98: Shame on those who don't vote!
10/27/98: It's spreading!
10/20/98: It ain't over yet
10/15/98: Mourning motherhood
9/23/98: Sosa and the race card
9/23/98: Believable and truthful are two different things
9/16/98: Time for a new Amendment!
9/08/98: When silence is truly golden
8/25/98: Bears and blunders
8/25/98: Only consistency about Prez's anti-terrorism policy: its inconsistency
8/18/98: Is our 'broken-compass' beyond fixing?
8/11/98: Reno's risk
8/04/98: When Truth is of the highest odor
7/28/98: No way to protect ourselvesagainst a nut's wrath
7/22/98: These 'choice' advocates are being demonzied ... by the Left.
7/15/98: Will 'neonaticide' become the new buzzword?
7/07/98: Urge to mega-merge, stopped in time
6/30/98: Why take responsibility if
somebody else will pay?
6/23/98: Blinded by the red, or is it the green?
6/17/98: Flotsam in the wake of romance
6/10/98: We have a ways to go in the bilingual war
6/3/98: Tyson's triumph over tragedy
5/28/98: Why Univision's Perenchio is out to hurt his fellow Hispanics
5/20/98: Sometimes Buba actually tells the truth ... as he sees it
5/12/98: Chill-out on the chihuahua and ... Seinfeld
5/8/98: The revolution is just about over
4/28/98: Let's face it: both parties are full of hypocrites
4/21/98: Legislating equality
4/14/98: One down, many to go
4/7/98: Mexican mayhem?
3/31/98: Of death and details
3/25/98: Americans are unaware of NATO expansion
3/18/98: Intellectual-ghettoes in the name of diversity
3/11/98: Be careful what you wish for ...
3/4/98: The Press' Learning-disability
2/25/98: 50 States Are Enough!
2/18/98: Casey at the Mat
2/11/98: The legal profession's Final Solution
2/4/98: Faith and the movies
1/28/98: Clinton, Lewinsky, and Politics Vs. Principle
1/21/98: Movement on the Abortion Front
1/14/98: Clones, Courts, and Contradictions
1/7/98: Child custody or child endangerment?
12/31/97: Jerry Seinfeld, All-American
12/24/97: Affirmative alternatives: New initiatives for equal opportunity are out there
12/17/97: Opening a window of opportunity (a way out of bilingual education for California's Hispanic kids)

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.