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Current time:0:00Total duration:8:22

Reading: History and social studies — How-to Part 1

Video transcript

okay we have a passage here since this passage is adapted from a speech delivered by congresswoman Barbara Jordan of Texas on July 25th 1974 as a member of the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives in the passage Jordan discusses how and when a United States President may be impeached or charged with serious offenses while in office Jordan's speech was delivered in the context of impeachment hearings against then President Richard M Nixon so this is fascinating all right let's start reading it today I am an Inquisitor and hyperbole would not be fictional and would not overstate the Soliman Asst that I feel right now that's a fascinating statement she's saying a hyperbole even in an exaggeration really isn't an exaggeration it would not be fictional it would not overstate how solemn she is feeling so she is feeling quite solemn she's taking this very seriously my faith in the Constitution is whole it is complete it is total and I am NOT going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution the subversion the destruction of the Constitution these are some serious words here let's keep going who can so properly be the inquisitors for the nation as the representatives of the nation themselves the subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceeded from the misconduct of public men and they have this little asterisks here so looks like if we go to the bottom of it they're saying Jordan quotes from Federalist number 65 an essay by Alexander Hamilton published in 1788 on the powers of the United States Senate including the power to decide cases of impeachment against a president of the United States so once again if we go back we go back to where we said this is a quote from from the Federalist Papers who can so properly be the inquisitors for the nation as the representative of the nation themselves so Hamilton saying hey look these are the people that you know these representatives these are the people who can be the inquisitors especially when the offenses seed from the misconduct of public men and that's what we're talking about now this is her talking again in other words the juror the jurisdiction comes from the abuse or violation of some public trust so she's making an argument look Congress has a voice here that there's some violation of the public trust so they are the appropriate inquisitors it is wrong I suggest it is a Miss reading of the Constitution for any member here to assert that for a member to vote for an article of impeachment means that that member must be convinced that the president should be removed from office the Constitution does not say that or doesn't say that the powers relating to impeachment are an essential check in the hands of the body of the legislature against and upon the encroachments of the executive the division between the two branches of the legislature the house and the Senate assigning to the one the right to accuse as the house and to the other the right to judge the framers of this constitution were very astute they did not make the accusers and the judges the same person fascinating we know the nature of impeachment we've been talking about it a while now it is chiefly designed for the president and his high ministers to somehow be called into account it is designed to bridle the executive if he engages in excesses it is designed as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public men the framer so she's quoting she's quoting again from the Federalist Papers and the asterisk the asterisk there the framers confided in the Congress the power if need be to remove the president in order to strike a delicate balance between a president swollen with power and grown tyrannical and preservation of the independence of the executive so there's a balance that the president is swollen with power and growing tyrannical a man that's appropriate time for impeachment or even to remove of the president but then you also have to preserve the independence of the executive that's what the balance of power is the nature of impeachment a narrowly channeled exception to the separation of powers maximum so once against an exception that typically the President and the Congress should be separate but the Congress starts to have jurisdiction when the when the president does something really over-the-top the federal Convention of 1787 said that it limited impeachment to high crimes to high crimes and misdemeanors and discounted and opposed the term maladministration so they're saying hey look it's impeachment isn't just because you don't think the president is doing a great job or you know does something slightly bad it's for high crimes and misdemeanors high crimes and misdemeanors it is to be used only for great misdemeanors so it was said in the North Carolina ratification convention and in the Virginia ratification convention we do not trust our Liberty to a particular branch we need one branch to check the other the North Carolina ratification convention so this is what they said no one need be afraid that officers who commit oppression will pass with immunity prosecutions of impeachments will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community said Hamilton in the Federalist Papers number 65 we divide into parties more or less friendly or an Imanol or inimical inimical I was have trouble saying that inimical to the accused I do not mean political parties in that sense so in the Federalist Papers hey you know when if if there is a if there's a prosecution of impeachment people are going to have opinions about it's going to agitate the passions of the whole whole community people are going to divide into parties that are either kind of for the impeachment or against or against the appeasement and hopefully not along party lines just people who are sympathetic to the impeachment or not the drawing of political lines goes to the motivation behind impeachment but impeachment must proceed within the confines of the constitutional term high crimes and misdemeanors of the impeachment process it was Woodrow Wilson who said that nothing short of the grossest grossest offenses against the plain law of the land will suffice to give them speed and effectiveness indignation so this is kind of disapproval so great as to overgrow party interest may secure conviction but nothing else can so once again the drying of political lines you know obviously one party is going especially if the opposing party of the president they're gonna be the ones they're gonna motivate be motivated to maybe start impeachment proceedings but the indignation the disapproval of what the president has to be has done has to be great enough to overcome party lines in order to succumb in order to secure a conviction so it can't just be or it shouldn't just be one party trying to try to do something do something political common sense would be revolted if we engaged upon this process for petty reasons Congress has a lot to do appropriations tax reform health insurance campaign finance reform it's amazing they were talking about a lot of the stuff in 1974 and they they still are housing Environmental Protection energy sufficiency mass transportation pettiness cannot be allowed to stand in the face of such overwhelming problems so today we're not being petty we're trying to be big because the task we have before us is a big one so she is taking this very very very seriously