it's definitely not your imagination, mr. president. those vibrations rumbling faintly beneath your feet since january — this week they're loud enough to hear.
can you hear it, mr. president — coming from the plains?
the bill urges the illinois general assembly to "submit charges to the u. s. house of representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president of the united states, george w. bush, for willfully violating his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states and if found guilty urges his removal from office and disqualification to hold any other office in the united states."
can you hear it, mr. president — coming from the coast?
joining illinois, california has become the second state in which a proposal to impeach president bush has been introduced in the state legislature. and this one includes cheney as well.
there it is again — coming from up north!
more than a dozen lawmakers on tuesday introduced a resolution calling for president bush's impeachment, making the vermont legislature the second in the nation to consider such a move. [third in the nation, actually]
history was quietly made over the past five days when three states from across the nation, in rapid succession, made the first calls for impeachment ever introduced to any state legislature.
the state drive for impeachment takes advantage of an obscure, never-before-explored parliamentary procedure written by vice president thomas jefferson, which allows a state legislature to send impeachment charges to congress:
according to section 603 of jefferson's manual, "there are various methods of setting an impeachment in motion": 1) by charges made on the floor by a member of the house; 2) by charges preferred by a memorial filed by a house member; 3) by charges contained in a resolution introduced by a house member; 4) by a message from the president; 5) by charges transmitted by a state legislature, or a grand jury; 6) by facts developed and reported by an investigating committee of the house.
even more intriguing, once transmitted to the house, impeachment charges supercede all other pending business:
a direct proposition to impeach is a question of high privilege in the house and at once supersedes business otherwise in order under the rules governing the order of business. it may not even be superseded by an election case, which is also a matter of high privilege. it does not lose its privilege from the fact that a similar proposition has been made at a previous time during that same session of congress, previous action of the house not affecting it.
as noted by method 1, the normal avenue for impeachment requires that articles be introduced first in the house of representatives. if passed, the charges are then taken up by the senate. until now, this was the way impeachment had always been conducted.
such charges have yet to be introduced to the house. however, in december 2005, articles for an inquiry into bush's misconduct, for consideration toward a move for impeachment, were introduced by rep. john conyers, who has since introduced motions to censure bush and cheney. in march senator russ feingold lobbed his own censure bombshell into the senate. facing perfunctory opposition from the republican majority in congress, these articles of course have failed to gain any traction in either house, even among democrats.
but the growing pressure to rebuke the president in any fashion, like the magma churning beneath the earth's crust, has to be channeled somewhere, somehow. the state initiatives represent fissures that the congressional republicans have little hope of plugging at once and for all, because the movement is made up of dozens of small municipal committees across the country working together, with the aid of the blogosphere, where it was born. similar resolutions from committees in new mexico, north carolina and wisconsin (home to senator feingold) continue to surge upward from the lowest strata of our political landscape.
of course, each initiative still must breach two major thresholds: passage in its own respective legislature and passage in the house of representatives. but in january this was dismissed a crackpot idea. in less than four months, eruptions around the country are already being felt. by summer, house republicans fighting for their continued relevance may be further burdened with the silly spectacle of being forced to play impeachment whack-a-mole.
so you might want to grab hold of something, mr. president — you may be in for a rocky ride this summer.