by Mary W Maxwell, LLB
Article I, section 9 of the US Constitution says “No Bill of Attainder shall be passed.” The effort to punish Trump by means other than a timely impeachment (too late now) or a proper conviction by a court for crime (no indictment yet) is a bad joke.
People are saying we need unity. I suppose that’s true, but we should also remember the joy and comfort of cozying up to the bosom of our Mom, i.e., the Constitution.
The solution to our problems is always to be found there.
We definitely should quit playing legalistic or mathematical games to find a way to punish any citizen, and Donald Trump is but a citizen now.
His presidency did end on January 20th, by means fair or foul. Donald J Trump is no longer the Executive officer of this land (to which I say Thank God, but that is just a personal statement).
“Tainting” a person was quite the game in Tudor England, and under the Stuarts it hopped a ride on The Mayflower to our sunny shores. But the Framers of the Constitution, in the hot summer of 1787 in Philadelphia’s Convention Hall, said “Forget it.”
The Framers not only wrote as plain as plain can be, “No Bill of Attainder shall be passed,” they even specified, in Article III, section 3, that the punishment for treason would have limitations:
“The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.”
(Corruption of blood caused your progeny to inherit your punishment.)
Senator Rand Paul Jumping Up and Down
It is nice to see Rand jumping up and down again. He has been looking subdued since his injury (the blow to his back ribs, which I believe was delivered by a Manchurian Candidate).
Now he is yelling not only that Congress mustn’t pass a bill of attainder, but that this is the gist of the effort to convict Trump via the impeachment process, after having left office. I agree. It would be a bill of attainder by any other name.
Separately, Senator Paul makes the point that the Senate should not proceed with a trial to convict on the basis of the House’s one Article of Impeachment of Trump for inciting violence on January 6, 2021.
Correct again. Everybody knows that the Constitution’s solution to the problem of a bad man in the White House (or a bad judge in the court, or a bad Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, etc) is to show them to the door. Here is Article II, section 4 on the detals:
“The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Fine, but Trump is not a president, a vice president, or a Civil Officer, so no dice. DO NOT CONVICT. It would be, as is so common these days, a hit on our mom, the Constitution.
Here is what James Madison, age 37, said on July 20, 1787. (You’ll find this is at Founders.Archives.gov.) He refers to himself in the third person:
“Mr. Madison thought it indispensable that some provision should be made for defending the Community agst the incapacity, negligence or perfidy of the chief Magistrate. The limitation of the period of his service, was not a sufficient security. He might lose his capacity after his appointment. He might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers....”
Of course, of course, everybody knows that was the purpose of creating a way to impeach a president.
Still, I Blame Rand Paul
We need to sort out whether the president did or did not incite violence. I have seen evidence both pro and con. If the Senate does go ahead with a trial (slated to fail of convicting, owing to the present headcount of GOPers), we would at least get info under oath about the events of January 6.
However, the new DoJ persons are likely to take care of that by bringing criminal charges against the 148 invaders of the Capitol.
What do I blame Senator Paul for? For preventing a trial of Trump back in February 2020. He and colleagues were able to skip it because “they had the numbers.” Very naughty, a hit on Mom. It’s every senators’ duty to try the person. What dirt were they afraid might come out?
The first of the two Articles of Impeachment from the 2020 extravaganza alleged that Trump had “abused power.” He purportedly told Ukraine’s leader that US Aid would be withheld if Ukraine failed to look into crimes of Hunter Biden. (Does the name Burisma ring a bell?)
I was disgusted that, when the GOP has a majority in the Senate – ah, those halcyon days, – they stooped so low as to pretend the US has a Westminster-style government. No. Mom is not a British constitution. Mom has nothing to say about Parties. There are no Parties on the Hill as far as the US Constitution is concerned. Granted you’d never know that from listening to the nightly news on CNN.
Is Any Former President in Want of a Criminal Indictment?
No doubt criminal charges could be brought today against Obama, Bill Clinton, Bush, and Trump. (Offhand, I can’t think of any for Carter). And maybe their respective vice-presidents.
Basically, it seems wise to refrain from charging an ex-president, as we Americans would like to preserve a feeling of respect and honor about all our Chiefs. Actually, we may be able to honor them more of we did lower the boom on any criminal presidents. Some countries throw their ex-prime ministers in jail every chance they get. But for me, I could do without.
Finally, There are voices talking about using the 14th Amendment as a way of treating Trump as an insurrectionist or rebel, a la the Civil War. There be a provision there for keeping such a person from ever holding office again. Thank you but I won’t dignify it with a discussion
Mary W Maxwell's website is ConstitutionAndTruth.com