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Proposed Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

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Message Lawrence Fiarman
"Among other high crimes and misdemeanors, the Congress shall in all cases impeach the President for the crimes of failing to protect and preserve this Constitution of The United States of America, and for the crimes of failing to protect and observe the rights of the citizens of the various States."

I am not one to join the current far left obsession with impeaching President George W. Bush. I am not one to join the mistaken sentiment that the message of last November's election was to change the leadership of Congress so the President could be impeached. No, the voters did not say that. The voters simply recognized Republicans had made terrible mistakes and it was time to give the other guys a limited tryout. The ultimate message of the 2006 election was this: Let's see if maybe the Democrats can behave like responsible adults.

I don't think President Bush should be impeached for leading us into Iraq, or for mismanaging our engagement there. He has made mistakes. He continues to make them. Now he is thinking of increasing our troop levels in Iraq. But, foolishness is not an impeachable offense.

I did not want to hear talk of impeaching George W. Bush.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, we learned that when President Bush signed the Postal Reform Bill in December 2006, he claimed in a signing statement that the bill "provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection." There is no language in the bill for this. The Congress denies it was their intention. But, President Bush says he and other government officials now have the power to open private mail without a judge's warrant.

I don't mind the government opening private mail with a court order if there are reasons to suspect a crime is being committed. I don't mind the government listening to private telephone or electronic conversations with a court order if there are reasons to suspect a crime is being committed. I don't mind American citizens being arrested for crimes, or the conspiracy to commit crimes, so long as the full safeguards and procedures of our justice system are in force. I'm astonished that President Bush has made these an issue.

What I mind is pretending that the rights of citizens and the safeguards of the legal system must be bypassed. How hard is to get a court order? Not hard at all. How long does it take? Not long at all. The 1978 law that requires a court order for phone taps, that President Bush insists he must bypass, allows the judge's warrant to be granted up to three days after the wire tap has actually been done.

Now the mail, too.

The heart of the matter is not the privacy of telephone, email, or mail. It's that a President is actually acting as though he can make laws himself and ignore existing laws without consequence. President Bush is irresponsibly bypassing the Legislative and Judicial branches of our government, and recklessly asserting it is right to do so.

How, you may wonder, is this "preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States of America?" Good question. After all, he swore an oath to that.

But, still I am not one to want so see him impeached for all that. What troubles me is this. If President Bush succeeds in ignoring the Constitution, a future President may feel emboldened to ignore it as well. Then another. And yet another. We can't have that. We must preserve, protect and defend our Constitution, especially if our President will not. There is no other way.

This President and future Presidents must know they can't get away with just making things up. There is a limit to Presidential power. Ignoring the Constitution and laws is out. Way out.

For the sake of our future we must not disregard this. President Bush needs to be persuaded to give up this imprudent course he has taken of ignoring laws and other branches of government. If not, Congress needs to call him on it. Even if it means impeachment hearings. Even if it means an impeachment trial in the Senate. Even if it means removal from office. Even if it means the same fate for his vice-presidential successor.

This is not about Iraq. Iraq should not be on the table for impeachment. This is not about George W. Bush either. It is bigger. It's about our Constitution. We must preserve it, or we will be left with only the rule of men, not the rule of law. We can ill afford impeachment proceedings, but we can never afford the loss of the rule by law.
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Lawrence Fiarman is a freelance writer and former columnist for the local newspaper in his midwestern hometown.
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