State Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-7) has introduced a resolution which she hopes will initiate impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush.
Though a vote of the U.S. House is needed for impeachment proceedings, Yarbrough is hoping to take advantage of a loophole left open by Thomas Jefferson which allows a state legislature to push the House to action.
“It’s my understanding that [if it’s passed by the state] Congress has to take it up as a matter of business,” said Yarbrough.
The resolution, introduced last Thursday, has already picked up three co-sponsors, State Reps Eddie Washington of Waukegan and Sarah Feigenholz and Cynthia Soto of Chicago, according to Yarbrough.
“I intend to work this resolution. I’d like to get 60 co-sponsors and have a debate in committee and bring it for a full vote,” she said.
Yarbrough said that she was first informed of the provision in Jefferson’s Manual, a supplement to the rules governing the U.S. House of Representatives, by local Internet blogger and Forest Park Review opinion columnist Carl Nyberg.
“Carl told me that under Jefferson’s rule [section] 603 you can do this, and I said ‘you’ve got to be kidding,'” she said.
Nyberg said he learned of the clause through conversations with another blogger on the popular liberal blog Daily Kos.
“This method of impeachment isn’t as esoteric as it might sound,” said Nyberg. “It’s been used to impeach federal judges before.”
Among those judges was Florida District Judge Charles Swayne, who was impeached in 1905 after being accused of improper use of private railroad cars, filing false travel vouchers and other violations. He was eventually acquitted.
Other blue states have also attempted to put the provision to work. In Vermont, for example, 69 legislators from that state’s House and Senate have reportedly signed a letter to Congress asking that investigations be conducted concerning whether a presidential impeachment is called for at this time.
Though Nyberg said he initially encouraged Yarbrough to focus her call for impeachment on Bush’s controversial wiretapping program, the resolution also accuses Bush of authorizing violations of the Torture Convention of the Geneva Convention and holding prisoners of war without charge or trial.
The resolution’s harshest words pertain to the war in Iraq.
“Evidence suggests that the Bush Administration has manipulated intelligence for the purpose of initiating a war against the sovereign nation of Iraq, resulting in the deaths of large numbers of Iraqi civilians and causing the United States to incur loss of life, diminished security and billions of dollars in unnecessary expense,” it states, going on to demand that Bush be removed from office and disqualified from holding any other office in the United States.
“I’m a product of the 60s and went through the Vietnam era. When I go to Washington and go to the Vietnam memorial I see some friends and former classmates whose names are on that wall. That was an unjust war, and that will always be on my mind,” said Yarbrough.
Yarbrough acknowledged that even if it were to pass through the state legislature, getting an impeachment resolution through a Republican-controlled Congress would be next to impossible. The office of U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has already been quoted calling Yarbrough’s resolution “absolutely ridiculous.”
Even if its value ends up being only symbolic, Yarbrough said she still feels the cause is worth the effort.
“If not now then when, and if not a blue state then who?” she asked.