Akhil Amar


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akhil amar Electoral College
THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE- ITS TIME TO MOVE ON


The next President of the United States, the successor to William Jefferson Clinton and man who will lead America as the first President of the new millennium is George W. Bush, the Republican governor of Texas, the son of a former President. Or its Democratic Vice President Al Gore, President Clintons right hand man for the past eight years.
One of these gentlemen is the next leader of the free world.
Who that gentleman is will in all likelihood be determined by the Supreme Court. Which is probably not what our nations Founding Fathers had in mind when they designed the Presidential  election process.
The 2000 Presidential Election has been nothing short of a fiasco on many levels. Historical in the sense that this has never happened in the United States before, but a fiasco, nonetheless. The popular vote shows Gore as winning the election, however, the popular vote does not determine the next tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Thats the job of the Electoral College. The winner of Floridas electoral votes, and apparently of the election was Bush. Bush had won Floridas 25 electoral votes. However, reports of voting irregularities, problems with the butterfly ballot and voters allegedly being turned away from the polls, raised concerns as to who the actual winner of the crucial Florida electoral votes was. The popular vote was so close that it required a recount, effectively taking the electoral votes, the election and the Presidency away from Bush.
The 2000 Presidential Election has done nothing if not raise serious questions about our election process. Lack of standardization in the voting process, methods of vote tabulation and the medias role in determining the outcome of an election have all come under scrutiny. The question raised most often, however, seems to be about the Electoral College, and its validity as part of the election process in the 21st Century.

Originally, in our nations infancy, the plan was to have Congress elect the President. Despite the fact that the President of the United States might feel indebted to Congress, coupled with the fact that the intricate system of checks and balances placed in the Constitution would be weakened by such a process, this system was the process of choice and received approval on four different occasions (Pierce 39).
There were those who did not agree with this method of choosing a President, and while many felt that the American Democracy was sufficiently mature enough to handle a direct vote, they also felt that the government was still shaky at best.
One of the biggest proponents of the direct vote was future President James Madison, who, despite his concerns over unfairness to the underpopulated southern states,  felt that since one of the Presidents jobs was to guard the people from the legislature, he should be elected by the people he is guarding. (Pierce 41). It was generally believed, however, that the people were essentially misinformed and easily confused and misled. Despite being voted down on two separate occasions, the direct vote system did demonstrate the hazards of the legislature selecting the president. (Pierce 41)
Eventually, what developed was the Electoral College.
The idea behind the Electoral College was to have electors that could not be a member of Congress, vote for the President. The final plan, after two were voted down, was to have the electors selected by each state's legislatures. It was agreed that each states electors would be the total of the states representatives and senators.( Electoral 256). The process for electing the President of the United States had been determined.(Pierce 44).
The states used three methods for choosing  electors. The first was the legislative system, in which state legislatures chose the electors, the district system whereby electors were chosen by Congressional district and the general ticket, where the winner was determined by a popular vote throughout the state, the winner of which took all the electoral votes.  (Glennon 13). 48 states presently use the general election system, with two states (Maine and Nebraska)  still using the district system. The system utilizes the census results to determine the number of representatives each state is allowed. This total, plus the states ... more

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The verb "impeach" as defined by Webster's Third International Dictionary is to cause an official to be removed from office because of conviction of impropriety, misdemeanor, or misconduct while in said office. The right to impeach public officials is secured by the U.S. Constitution in Article I, Sections 2 and 3, which discuss the procedure, and in Article II, Section 4, which indicates the grounds for impeachment: "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." Treason and bribery are specified by the framers as "high crimes," however, it is the "other high crimes and misdemeanors" that, as Amar points out, "will ultimately call for a more nuanced interpretation" (Amar). It is my contention that this interpretation may or may not include the sexual misconduct of William Jefferson Clinton, but it does warrant conviction for perjury to a jury about such actions.

As the Southmayd Professor of Law at Yale Law School, Akhil Reed Amar has authored several books regarding the Constitution and Bill of Rights such as The Constitution and Criminal Procedure: First Principals (Yale, 1997), and The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction (Yale, 1998). He has written widely on constitutional issues for such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Monthly, Policy Review, The New Republic, and Slate. He is considered an expert in this area, and has been widely cited by scholars, judges, and justices. It is clear that his credibility is unquestionable.

In his recent article entitled Trial and Tribulation, published in the magazine The New Republic, Amar opens that "No president is above the law, but the law for presidents is different than for others, at least in the case of impeachment." As Amar also points out "A president must pursue sound national policies that may render him unpopular in some localities"; therefore he "should not be obstructed by a grand or petit jury from any one locality." In other words, if the president were to enact a policy that some small municipality, or county, or even a state may wholly disagree with or even find unlawful in their representation, that entity should obviously not be able to pursue the president for prosecution solely on the grounds of political differences. This is necessary in order to protect the office of the presidency, and protecting the presidency is of great importance to this nation. Protecting it would be the very reason for the removal of Bill Clinton. His acts of indiscretion only added to the already tarnished reputation of politicians in general, but now he brings this infection into the most sacred of houses, the White House.

 Another point is that to remove a president from office would mean to "undo the votes of millions of Americans on Election Day." For the Senate to be able to do this frivolously would mean a "slide toward a kind of parliamentary government that our entire structure of government was designed to repudiate." This would be a bad thing. Our government is structured so that the president, chosen by the people, has a powerful role in government; powerful enough to enact drastic changes as the changing world calls for. This populist presidency that we have chosen to govern ourselves by gives a lot of power to one man. If this endowment is not used to our liking, the people also have the power not to re-elect. However, in times of drastic misuses or abuses of power, the Constitution stipulates a course of action to protect us from such an administration.

Amar seems to focus too much on the difference between the impeachment of a judge, or other, and that of a president. He doesn't spend enough time discussing whether or not what Clinton actually did was impeachable. He refers to it as "the pesky definitional problem posed by" what the Constitution refers to as "high crimes and misdemeanors". Here he makes the valid point that when interpreting the Constitution, specifically Article II, section 4 (paraphrased above), we need not take it so literally. In his opinion "This clause lumps together presidential impeachments with all others ... more

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