I do not take seriously the idea that congressional Republicans will attempt to impeach President Obama. It didn’t work for them against President Bill Clinton, who had done far more to deserve it. And perhaps they have figured out by now that it takes a two-thirds vote in the U.S. Senate to convict and remove a president.
On the other hand, I do take legal affairs analyst Jeffrey Toobin seriously, and his latest New Yorker piece made at least a back-handed argument that influential conservatives think Obama has committed impeachable offenses.
What it comes down to is this: Toobin takes the Federalist Society seriously. He knows that many liberals view the Federalists as “a shadowy cabal.” But Toobin knows better. Their programs are intellectually rigorous and, he notes in the key punchline of his short piece: “Where the Federalists lead, Republicans follow.”
So Toobin was struck by the rhetoric at a recent Federalist meeting which didn’t just disagree with Obama’s policies, but made a legal and constitutional case that Obama has regularly violated both the law and the sacred charter. Obama is “opposed to and hostile to the Constitution,” said Arkansas Congressman and Senate candidate Tom Cotton.
One of several examples of Obama’s disrespect for the balance of powers was the postponements he authorized to the deadlines for several provisions in the Affordable Care Act. I have heard this complaint before and have not read a good analysis of where Obama claimed to find the authority to change the implementation schedule. But it is inconceivable to me that he could be impeached and removed over that matter.
Nonetheless, Charles Cooper, described by Toobin as “a longtime stalwart of the Federalist Society,” bespoke himself thus at the meeting:
“Our system of checks and balances has been no match for President Obama,” Cooper said. “He has violated his oath of office comprehensively. He has done what the Constitution forbids him to do, and he has not done that which the Constitution requires him to do.” According to Cooper, the real issue to address was impeachment: “The threshold question is whether President Obama’s serial violations of separations of powers satisfies the constitutional standard for impeachment. Has he committed … ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’? I believe there is little doubt that he has.”
The good news is that when Toobin asked Cooper whether is backing an actual move toward impeachment, Cooper said he isn’t — yet.