Tag: Constitution

Supreme Court Nominations & the Constitution

I sat in this chamber twice. The first occasion was listening to the Supreme Court hear arguments. I don’t remember the case. My presence there, in 1981, was while I was interning at the Court’s history office as I worked on my doctorate at The American University. The second time was in early 1999 at a conference on constitutional history. Attendees were then served dinner at the Court. Of all the institutions set up by the Constitution, the Court is… Read more »

Phrases in Need of Context

I’ve never been one to jump on bandwagons of trendy phrases and slogans. I’m not going to start now. I don’t care if they emanate from political Left field or political Right field. I avoid them all. Instead, I think it’s important to explain matters cogently and with the proper context, tossing aside phrases that create certain images in people’s minds that may not be accurate. As much as possible, I always want to provide both theological and historical context… Read more »

Historical Nuance & America’s Founding

It’s always important to define one’s terms before delving into an explanation of anything. I would like to begin with a definition of the following word: Nuance: A subtle or slight degree of difference, as in meaning, feeling, or tone. Expression or appreciation of subtle shades of meaning, feeling, or tone. Nuance needs to be applied to history, especially in the current atmosphere where many are angry over injustices that have occurred in American history. There are three attitudes one… Read more »

Liberty or License?

Some people are beginning to grumble about the stay-at-home orders during this COVID-19 era. Protests are beginning to pop up in various state capitals. The concern, they say, is that their liberty is being trampled by authoritarian government. At this juncture, it might be beneficial to define terms. Noah Webster, America’s first lexicographer, offered in his 1828 dictionary a key distinction between the words “liberty” and “license.” He divided liberty into various types, one of which was “civil liberty,” the… Read more »

Impeachable Offenses: A History (Part 3)

In my previous two posts, I offered insights on impeachable offenses from the preeminent expositor of the Constitution in early America, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, and from one of the most learned legal scholars of the twentieth century, Raoul Berger. In this, my final post dealing with the subject, I turn to what the House of Representatives concluded during its investigation of Richard Nixon’s potential impeachment. Yes, that House conclusion was written when Democrats controlled the House, but it… Read more »

Impeachable Offenses: A History (Part 2)

In my last post, I drew from my book, Mission: Impeachable, on whether an impeachment and removal from office required the violation of a specific law. I quoted Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (served 1812-1845) who, in his Familiar Exposition of the Constitution, noted that the history of impeachment, both in theory and in practice, had never laid down such a requirement. Story was the most eminent constitutional commentator of his day, and his view needs to be taken seriously…. Read more »

Impeachable Offenses: A History (Part 1)

We are in the midst of another impeachment drama, the third in my lifetime. The first, that of Richard Nixon, didn’t reach a full House vote or a Senate trial due to Nixon’s wise decision to resign. The second, that of Bill Clinton, went to the Senate but suffered from the tribalism that so affects us still today, with not even one Democrat voting to remove him from office. After that failed attempt to turn the presidency over to VP… Read more »