Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Poll Analyses
Share on Facebook 16 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/9/19

Explainer: No, House Democrats Aren't Violating Trump's Rights

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   1 comment
Author 76576
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Thomas Knapp

Andrew Johnson impeachment trial.
Andrew Johnson impeachment trial.
(Image by (From Wikimedia) Theodore Russel Davis  (1840–1894)   / Illustration in en:Harper's Weekly, April 11, 1868., Author: See Source)
  Details   Source   DMCA

"If the facts are your side," famed attorney and former law professor Alan Dershowitz instructed his students, "pound the facts into the table. If the law is on your side, pound the law into the table. If neither the facts nor the law are on your side, pound the table."

As Republican attacks on the US House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry grow in fury, they more and more resemble the third instruction in Dershowitz's maxim.

The latest Republican angle on the inquiry is that House Democrats are violating President Donald Trump's constitutional rights under the Sixth Amendment.

"Impeachment is a legal proceeding," writes Federalist Society Chairman and law professor Steve Calabresi at The Daily Caller, "and just as criminal defendants have constitutional rights in criminal trials so too does Trump have constitutional rights, which House Democrats are denying him."

These rights, says Calabresi (and the US Constitution's Sixth Amendment) include the right to a speedy public trial, the right to be informed of the charges against him, and the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him.

At first blush, these might sound like cogent legal arguments -- pounding the law into the table, so to speak. But they're not. They're just pounding the table.

Calabresi calls impeachment a "legal proceeding," but that term appears nowhere in the Sixth Amendment. The rights protected therein are protected in "criminal prosecutions." Impeachment is not a criminal prosecution. The maximum penalty is removal from office. It's an employee disciplinary proceeding of sorts.

To the extent that the process does resemble a criminal prosecution, the House inquiry function is analogous to a police investigation or a grand jury probe. As of yet there are no "charges" for the president to be informed of. A House vote to impeach is the equivalent of filing charges or handing down an indictment. That happens at the end of, not during, the inquiry.

If the House votes to impeach, there will be a trial in the US Senate. At that point the "prosecution" will identify those whom it intends to call as witnesses, and Trump's attorneys will "be confronted with" those witnesses and have an opportunity to vigorously cross-examine them.

Calabresi's claims are the equivalent of arguing that if a 911 caller reports a bank robbery in progress, the suspects' constitutional rights are violated unless the police chief takes them and the 911 caller out on the bank's front steps and lets them argue the matter in front of a crowd -- before charging the suspects, and whether or not the caller would be summoned as a trial witness.

When Trump's defenders merely pound the table, the presumptive reason is that they're fresh out of fact and law to pound instead.

 

Well Said 1   Funny 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Thomas Knapp Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

America Doesn't Have Presidential Debates, But It Should

Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago

Finally, Evidence of Russian Election Meddling ... Oh, Wait

Chickenhawk Donald: A Complete and Total Disgrace

The Nunes Memo Only Partially "Vindicates" Trump, But it Fully Indicts the FBI and the FISA Court

If You've Got Nothing to Hide, You've Got Nothing to Fear, JFK Assassination Edition

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: