...
Holding Presidents Accountable

Holding Presidents Accountable Introduction

Holding Presidents Accountable

Holding Presidents Accountable for their acts as citizens, even holders of the highest political office in the land is a duty to hold all violators of their trust or crimes committed while holding office accountable.

There is no exception that can be reasonably defended by any who believes in the American justice system and the rule of law. We are not yet an autocracy, a kingdom, or an empire in which the executive is outside the arm of the law. In the current climate of the United States, however, The MAGA Republicans would have us submit the former president, Donald Trump to nothing more than the court of public opinion.

The right-wing ‘press’ is behaving badly as defenders of Mr. Trump while the former president is under four criminal indictments that carry 91 felony charges, the irresponsible reporting of conspiracy theories has the potential to infect juries who are charged with evaluating evidence and reaching a decision, not listening to false accusations and stories of innocence without the benefit of the legal system functioning as intended.

Presidents of the United States are not immune to the law; they are citizens like everyone else, subject to the same rights and responsibilities. The recent debates surrounding presidential immunity, fueled by historical incidents and interpretations, have prompted crucial conversations about the accountability of the nation’s highest office. Amidst this discourse, it becomes imperative to explore the role of the 25th Amendment, Section 3, in ensuring that no one, regardless of their stature, escapes the rule of law.

The Origins of Presidential Immunity: Lessons from History

The concept of presidential immunity gained significant traction during the Nixon administration, largely driven by efforts to shield Richard Nixon from the consequences of his actions. It was during this period that the idea of immunity for sitting presidents began to take shape. However, historical context reveals that the 25th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, in 1807, acknowledged that U.S. Presidents remain citizens while in office, dismissing the notion of absolute immunity.

While recognizing the necessity of executive functionality, it’s important not to distort this principle to evade accountability. Quite frankly, it is unAmerican to immunize the President or any other officeholder from the consequences of his or her actions. The Justice Department memo on Presidential immunity is unAmerican at its core and must be abandoned for the consequences of immunity are nothing if not tempting to an unprepared officeholder.

The Constitutional Framework: Section 3 of the 25th Amendment

The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, provides a comprehensive framework for addressing presidential incapacity. Section 3 of the amendment stipulates that a president can voluntarily transfer their powers and duties to the vice president. This constitutional provision was designed to ensure the continuity of government operations during periods of presidential incapacity, whether due to health reasons or other emergencies. The section’s language does not limit its application solely to health-related issues; it can extend to instances where a president faces legal challenges.

Inconsistency in Interpretation: Holding Presidents Accountable

Central to the debate is the inconsistency in interpreting presidential immunity. Legal opinions from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) have often emphasized the necessity of a president’s physical presence to fulfill executive duties effectively. However, these memos tend to overlook the broader intent of Section 3, which allows for temporary transfers of power to address situations beyond physical health. The OLC memos, in their narrow focus, inadvertently perpetuate the idea that a president’s accountability to the law can be conveniently suspended.

Applying the 25th Amendment Section 3 to Matters of Holding Presidents Accountable

Section 3 of the 25th Amendment’s applicability goes beyond physical incapacity; it encompasses situations where a president faces legal challenges that may hinder their ability to discharge their duties. Just as presidents have temporarily transferred power for medical procedures, they can do so in the face of criminal indictments. This avenue, based on the Constitution itself, provides a balanced approach to accountability without compromising the executive branch’s operational integrity. It’s crucial to recognize that accountability is an integral component of the presidency, regardless of the nature of the challenge.

Preserving Democracy: The Imperative for Holding Presidents Accountable

At the heart of democratic governance lies the principle that no individual, regardless of their position, is above the law. Failing to hold a sitting president accountable for criminal actions would erode the very foundation upon which the nation stands. The 25th Amendment’s Section 3 serves as a safeguard, ensuring that the president remains accountable while allowing the vice president to assume duties temporarily. Democracy thrives on checks and balances, and this amendment embodies that ideal.

Conclusion: Holding Presidents Accountable and Democracy’s Continuity

In a nation built on principles of justice, equality, and accountability, no one, including a sitting president, should evade the legal consequences of their actions. The 25th Amendment, Section 3, offers a balanced solution that caters to the needs of the executive branch while upholding the rule of law. To ensure the integrity of the presidency and preserve the essence of democracy, it is essential to recognize that the president is not immune to accountability. By utilizing the provisions already embedded in the Constitution, we can hold leaders accountable and continue to uphold the title of “President” rather than devolve into a monarchy.

By Politics-as-Usual

Roger is a retired Professor of language and literacy. Over the past 15 years since his retirement, Roger has kept busy with reading, writing, and creating landscape photographs. In this time of National crisis, as Fascist ideas and policies are being introduced to the American people and ignored by the Mainstream Press, he decided to stand up and be counted as a Progressive American with some ideas that should be shared with as many people who care to read and/or participate in discusssions of these issues. He doesn't ask anyone to agree with his point of view, but if entering the conversation he demands civility. No conspiracy theories, no wild accusations, no threats, no disrespect will be tolerated. Roger monitors all comments and email communication. That is the only rule for entering the conversation. One may persuade, argue for a different point of view, or toss out something that has not been discussed so long as the tone remains part of a civil discussion. Only then can we find common ground and meaningful democratic change.

Leave a Reply