Clinton impeachment debated

by Melanie Evans

If recent allegations against President Clinton prove true, Congress should impeach him, associate law professor Michael Paulsen told an audience of about 150 on Monday at the Law School.
Joined by Law School Dean Thomas Sullivan and professor Suzanna Sherry, Paulsen argued the finer points of the impeachment process during an hour-long debate sponsored by the University’s chapter of the Federalist Society.
“If the facts are as alleged, or very nearly as alleged, President Clinton should be impeached and removed from office,” Paulsen told the crowd.
Quoting from pocket-sized copies of the Constitution, the three law school faculty members fielded questions from the audience while arguing differing interpretations of constitutional law.
The president’s alleged perjury concerning White House intern Monica Lewinsky is not a crime against society, Sherry said.
Although the president might have committed a serious violation of the law, she said the alleged offenses involving the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit are not grounds for removing the president.
Sherry added that framers of the Constitution were more concerned with preserving the balance of power, not evaluating the president’s moral conduct.
“It’s not the kind of thing that the framers were worried about when they provided for impeachment,” she said.
The question and answer session focused on policy and avoided discussion of the media coverage, which has ballooned around the recent controversy. Topics ranged from the legality of indicting a sitting president to the statute that established independent counsel Kenneth Starr.
“We talked less about the media than we did about Congress and the legality of the issues,” said Brian Keller, third-year law student and president of the Federalist Society, “which is probably better, because that’s what people should be talking about.”
Sullivan, who served as a federal prosecutor under the Ford administration, said the topic offered students an excellent opportunity to study the practical legal issues of credible evidence and constitutional law.
First-year law student Dan Ruginbill said he attended Monday’s discussion for a solid policy debate — not because of the ratings-driven media hype that has dominated public discussion so far.
“It’s a current event issue that’s very central to the Constitution,” Ruginbill said. “Everything we do in this building, as law students, stems from the Constitution.”