Saturday, April 28, 2007

And what, exactly, do we mean by "impeach"

Seems there's a movement afoot to impeach the Vice President and slew of other elected and appointed federal officials.

Says the A28 website:
George Bush and Dick Cheney have lied the nation into a war of aggression, are spying in open violation of the law, and have sanctioned the use of torture. These are high crimes and misdemeanors that demand accountability. Since Congress doesn't seem to get it, on April 28 Americans from Miami, Florida to North Pole, Alaska are going to spell it out for them: IMPEACH!
Usually, when I think "impeach," I think about kicking the officials from office. I'm not alone... but I am wrong.

USAGE NOTE: When an irate citizen demands that a disfavored public official be impeached, the citizen clearly intends for the official to be removed from office. This popular use of impeach as a synonym of “throw out” (even if by due process) does not accord with the legal meaning of the word. As recent history has shown, when a public official is impeached, that is, formally accused of wrongdoing, this is only the start of what can be a lengthy process that may or may not lead to the official's removal from office. In strict usage, an official is impeached (accused), tried, and then convicted or acquitted. The vaguer use of impeach reflects disgruntled citizens' indifference to whether the official is forced from office by legal means or chooses to resign to avoid further disgrace.
It's not about throwing from office, it's about making an accusation against someone, it's about charging, before a relevant body or tribunal, a public official with improper conduct in office.

Conceivably, then, it would be possible, then, to impeach an official for the purpose of bringing them up short and not tossing them out. Or, is that really not possible?

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