Clause 1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties,
Imposts and Excises, to
pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but
all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
Clause 2: To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
Clause 3: To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several
States, and with the
Clause 4: To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform
Laws on the subject of
Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
Clause 5: To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign
Coin, and fix the Standard of
Weights and Measures;
Clause 6: To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities
and current Coin of the
Clause 7: To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
Clause 8: To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing
for limited Times to
Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
Clause 9: To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
Clause 10: To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the
high Seas, and Offences
against the Law of Nations;
Clause 11: To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and
make Rules concerning
Captures on Land and Water;
Clause 12: To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money
to that Use shall be for a
longer Term than two Years;
Clause 13: To provide and maintain a Navy;
Clause 14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
Clause 15: To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws
of the Union, suppress
Insurrections and repel Invasions;
Clause 16: To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the
Militia, and for governing such
Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States
respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to
the discipline prescribed by Congress;
Clause 17: To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever,
over such District (not
exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of
Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority
over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be,
for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; -And
Clause 18: To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for
carrying into Execution the
foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United
States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Clause 1: The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the
States now existing shall think
proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight
hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
Clause 2: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended,
unless when in Cases
of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
Clause 3: No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
Clause 4: No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless
in Proportion to the Census or
Enumeration herein before directed to be taken. (See Note 7)
Clause 5: No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
Clause 6: No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce
or Revenue to the Ports of
one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter,
clear, or pay Duties in another.
Clause 7: No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence
of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the
Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money
shall be published from time to time.
Clause 8: No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States:
And no Person holding any
Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any
present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Clause 1: No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation;
grant Letters of Marque
and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in
Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of
Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
Clause 2: No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any
Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely
necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net
Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of
the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
Clause 3: No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty
of Tonnage, keep Troops,
or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with
a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not
admit of delay.
What does 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors' mean?
Does it apply to perjury?
Contrary to popular belief, the term 'high crimes and misdemeanors' does not translate by the modern meanings of this phrase. Nor was this phrase specifically left vague by the founding fathers for future interpretation. Within the course of debate at the Constitutional Convention it was decided that the 'Ex Post Facto' law and the 'Bill of Attainder' be specifically banned from usage by Congress. These two terms refer to common legislative practices of the time which allowed a legislature to pursue criminal action against individuals without a proper trial in court. Such debate naturally prompted a discussion of impeachment. James Madison quickly argued that, in order to prevent dominance by the legislature through the use of impeachment, impeachment must be specifically limited to the serious offense. Upon this statement George Mason proposed to substitute the old British law term 'high crimes and misdemeanors' as terminology for what constitutes impeachment. Neither James Madison nor the clerk recorded any further discussion of this matter.
The use of a British common law term to define grounds for impeachment gives us a very precise area by which to define impeachment. At the time of the writing of the Constitution, the framers were educated in British law. For this reason, the framers spoke with British legal terms under a common understanding of their meanings. Such interpretation is not only a natural assumption by which the Constitution is to be interpreted. Such interpretation is mandated in precedent by the Supreme Court. In Smith v. Alabama the Supreme Court ruled "The interpretation of the Constitution of the Untied States is necessarily influenced by the fact that its provisions are framed in the language of the English common law, and are to be read in the light of its history." (a ruling of similar terminology is also found in United States v. Wong Kim Ark) From this ruling we draw the grounds for interpreting all Common Law terminology in the Constitution as such.
Naturally the next course we must investigate is what the term 'high crimes and misdemeanors' means in Common Law definition. The term 'high crimes and misdemeanors' specifically dates to 1388. Since word usage from 1388 differs greatly from that of today (misdemeanor alone has shifted from meaning an 'offense' or 'illegality' to a minor crime such as certain traffic violations. It is unthinkable to assume an official may be impeached for double parking). It helps to view this phrase as not a sentence of specified distinctions but as a legal term of art in itself. If we turn to actual impeachment trials in Britain between 1388 and 1789 we discover 'high crimes and misdemeanors' translates loosely as a "serious offense" or "crimes against public justice" (as termed by William Blackstone). Blackstone, among the most prominent expert of Common Law in Britain's history, included "willful and corrupt perjury" with what he described as "crimes against public justice." This association gives us natural inclination to believe that perjury is clearly included in what is described as 'high crimes and misdemeanors.'
To further support this association we look to the reasoning behind the inclusion of perjury under 'high crimes and misdemeanors.' A certain number of crimes (perjury, bribery, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and subornation of perjury included) constitute crimes against the judicial system. These crimes directly attack the system of justice at its roots by obstructing the process by which justice is carried through. For this reason, all are crimes of precedence. All of these crimes run the danger, if not properly dealt with, of setting a precedent of great damage to the judicial system itself. It is here we find the truth behind the argument that if a president is allowed to commit perjury without receiving punishment, such a precedent will be established in which perjury may no longer hold ground as a crime in court. Such a precedent would obviously be catastrophic to a system which relies on truthful testimony.
Being a crime of precedence, perjury clearly constitutes an impeachable offense. Because it is a crime of precedence in which the judicial system is directly at stake, material perjury in almost all cases is a crime against the state. Perjury associates in all clarity with the constitutionally impeachable crime of Bribery as well as the standard of 'high crimes and misdemeanors' based on its position in the judicial system.
Perjury being established as impeachable, we now may look to historical impeachments in which perjury was the crime at issue. The Constitution makes little distinction between the impeachment of federal officials (judges, etc.) and presidents when procedure is concerned. For all practical purposes the grounds are the same, "Treason, Bribery and other High Crimes and Misdemeanors." The only distinction is that the Chief Justice of the United States chairs impeachment trials for presidents.
Perjury has long been used to impeach federal judges. Two cases occurred in 1988 in which federal judges were impeached and convicted for perjury. Judges Walter Nixon and Alcee Hastings were both impeached on the grounds of perjury (Hastings was also accused of conspiracy to obstruct justice). The House of Representatives impeached both these men. The Senate convicted and expelled both these men. In the course of trial a Democrat controlled Congress accepted perjury as clear and reasonable grounds for impeachment and removal. Ironically Alcee Hastings currently serves as a Congressman from Florida. Hastings voted against all four articles of impeachment for Bill Clinton.
The definition of 'high crimes and misdemeanors' is clearly set out for us to see by examination of historical definition. Further proven is that perjury is impeachable. For this reason Congress is fully justified for removing an official on the charges of perjury, be it judge or president.
Justice rests "not upon the niceties of a narrow jurisprudence, but
upon the enlarged and solid principles of morality." - Edmund Burke
What an Impeachment is:
An impeachment is essentialy an indictment, or call to trial, of an official (including the President).
After an impeachment the official is put on trial. This trial determines if the accused is guilty of the offenses and if he should be removed from office. Impeachment can apply to most officials, the most recent being a judge in the mid 1980's.
What impeachment is NOT:
Contrary to popular belief, impeachment does not expel an official from office, it merely brings the official to trial.
Is Perjury Impeachable?
With regards to definitions of impeachable offenses, perjury is without question an impeachable offense. Perjury is (1.) a felony ("high crimes and misdemeanors" essentially means a serious crime or a felony), (2.) A crime of a serious nature be it in a civil or criminal investigation, and (3.) A strictly punishable offense be it committed on any level of power by any official. If precedents are considered, the Impeachments of Judge Nixon and Judge Alcee Hastings in 1989 for perjury prove this crime is impeachable.
What happens after expulsion from office?
After expulsion, criminal proceedings may take place regarding the official in question. These proceedings take place in the court system (Note: Richard Nixon's actions were not pursued after his resignation due to a presidential pardon- This pardon was most likely issued in regards to Nixon's health).
Does Impeachment conflict with elections?
No. Impeachment is merely a tool of procedure to enforce the law with regards to an official. It would be very difficult to pursue traditional legal proceedings against an official. Impeachment has been established as a process to deal with officials who break the law in regards to their elected position. In the event of a serious offense, if proven, the law regarding that offense takes precedence over an election and for that matter public opinion. The law stands as applicable to all no matter what opinion or elections show in regards to an officials popularity.