Make America Think Again (Pt. 2)
Volume Two: Is Impeachment Necessary?
If impeachment is necessary as claimed by the Democrats in the House of Representatives, everyone, regardless of political alignment and feelings for the President, should want the process to be transparent. Love him or hate him; you should care about the process. Why? According to Representatives Pelosi, Schiff, and Nadler, the evidence shows that the President has violated the law and oath of office. If so, they are obligated by law to impeach if this is true with a full House vote then place him on trial in the Senate. Otherwise, it should be dropped due to the lack of evidence. While they cite the mandate by the US Constitution, most proceedings are not laid out in the US Constitution at all. The Constitution is a framework “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America (The Constitution of the United States, 2015).”
All proceedings are based on precedent, laws, and rules stemming from this document. For example, American courts treat accused criminals as innocent until proven guilty to ensure that they are accorded all the rights they are due. However, there is nothing in the Constitution about a right to be treated innocent until proven guilty. This concept comes from English common law, and several parts of the Constitution, such as the right to remain silent and the right to a jury trial. It makes sense in light of a presumption of innocence. Otherwise, what’s the point if you do not presume innocence? You cannot convict without proof in our system. In the opposite version of this concept, you would have the presumption of guilt, which happens in many Socialist and Communist countries. You have to prove your innocence, which is where we are at the moment in this country.
For this reason, we use the same guidelines of the presumption of innocence in civil proceedings for occupational licensing which is my primary job. Before launching a full investigation into a practitioner's behavior or action, which includes issuing a subpoena, the complainant is questioned regarding their knowledge of the events. I issue a subpoena to gather more facts in most cases. Our proceedings are based on statute, rules, and precedent determined by the rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). In fact, many proceedings are adopted based on those rulings by the SCOTUS. When the rules of justice are bypassed, it corrupts the entire process moving forward. I believe in the process because it retains the integrity of any proceeding. Without it, there will be no confidence in the outcome.
Imagine what would be like if you were a licensed professional as many people are. You hold a professional license after completing extensive education, testing, and credentialing. As a licensee, you are obligated to adhere to professional standards. If you violate the standards, you could have your license revoked, which is equivalent to impeachment. It is permanent and final. It is a grave matter, to say the least.
Would you want the proceeding set by precedent to be extended to you out of fairness? Would you expect the presumption of innocence or a biased presumption of guilt? I think most people would demand the presumption of innocence. Most would be screaming that their civil rights are being violated, and they would be correct. You would and should seek the advice of counsel. I would agree.
I mentioned a few weeks ago about our process for performing investigations and issuing subpoenas in my job. As part of our proceedings, we read the subject of the investigation of their rights before we proceed with questioning. We ask for permission to record the interview to avoid misinterpretations. The same goes for any witnesses. In the beginning stages, it is all private and never made public to protect the rights of the accused and any patient information shared. If it goes to revocation, the hearing is always public. It takes 6 months to a year to revoke a license due to all of the procedural issues. What would it look like if all of this was tossed aside? What would it look like if the proceedings were at the whim of changing Board members and not precedent?
You are accused of violating some portion of the practice act governing your profession by an anonymous caller. The caller is asked to send in a formal complaint. They do, but he or she did not sign it. They indicated they witnessed the event and provided great detail. An investigation is started by your board. Along the way, the investigators go out in public and declare you are in violation of the professional practice act without informing you of what the violation is. The investigator issues a subpoena for information without any reference to the statute or rule violated. They find no reference to the alleged incidence in your file. They conclude it is a cover-up by the employer.
Nevertheless, they inform your employer that you have been accused, and the evidence is clear you are guilty based on the details provided by this unknown complainant. There is no way someone could be this detailed and be lying. As a result, your license will be revoked. Your employer informs you that you are being terminated for said violation. You appeal to their humanity, but they feel confident it looks too bad to allow you to remain employed. Without interviewing you, the Board takes the information then revokes your license solely based on the caller's account.
Does this scenario make you squirm? It is an injustice at its worst. In the real world, this would never happen on my watch, at least in my small corner of it. There would not be one person on our Board who would act in such a manner. As you might discern from reading the above scenario, this an unlikely event, or you should hope! They have stripped you of your ability to support yourself or your family forever without due process. I would support you 100% in suing whichever organization did this to you. It is wrong on every level. In fact, each step laid out above is a violation of the legal norm. You would expect fairness in any proceeding, and you deserve it. Doesn’t everyone deserve fairness?
You have the right to see the law you violated and the evidence against you. You have the right to have the witnesses cross-examined to prove your innocence. You have the right to know your accuser. Without those rights, you would be subject to egregious and overzealous actions by those who simply do not like you if there were no precedent established and rules not followed. These norms are not something to toss out because of feelings or emotions. In fact, these norms are in place to avoid a miscarriage of justice by taking those feelings out of the process to be objective in making a rational decision. It could still happen. It may seem implausible.
Now imagine you are Donald Trump!
The Constitution of the United States. (2015, October 30). Retrieved November 7, 2019, from National Archives website: https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution