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San Francisco Puts Impeachment on the November Ballot
With Help From Constitution Summer, San Francisco Approves Ballot Initiative to Call for Impeachment
Announcement Comes on Anniversary of Nixon Resignation
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Four City San Francisco Supervisors have put their pens to a document that will allow the city's 421,000 registered voters an up or down vote on the merits of impeaching both President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney this November 7th. The San Francisco Impeachment Ballot Initiative, like the Berkeley Impeachment Ballot Initiative approved on June 27th, 2006, was drafted in close coordination with Constitution Summer, a nonpartisan, national coalition of students at the nation's law schools and universities. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois quietly approved the first municipal presidential impeachment initiative in American history on April 11th, 2006.
News of the San Francisco decision was withheld until today because Supervisor Chris Daly, who drafted the measure, was on vacation. In addition to Supervisor Daly, Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi, Tom Ammiano, and Jake McGoldrick signed the measure. Constitution Summer helped Supervisor Daly's office select constitutionally grounded language based on the Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, which was drawn up by the attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights. These articles include: the Bush Administration's felonious disregard for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which governs electronic surveillance in the United States; the initiation of an illegal war of aggression based on fraudulent claims; extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, and torture; and an unconstitutional arrogation of power to the executive branch. In addition to these Articles, Supervisor Daly added the Bush Administration's failure to adequately respond to the Hurricane Katrina disaster as a failure to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.
The Articles of Impeachment included in the San Francisco initiative, and with exception of the Katrina response issue, the rationale behind them, are available in a book entitled The Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, published by Melville House Publishing. Melville House recently organized a series of national impeachment teach-ins based on the book, the largest of which was co-sponsored and organized by Constitution Summer. Constitution Summer's teach-in was attended by hundreds of people, and the speakers included Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Bill Goodman, Constitution Summer Advisory Board Member Daniel Ellsberg, and Constitution Summer President Geoffrey King.
Of the San Francisco Impeachment Initiative, King says, "The President and Vice President claim that they are protecting American freedom by surveilling and disappearing anyone they please, including American citizens, by tricking the people and Congress of the United States into an unnecessary war, and by creating a massive torture bureaucracy. They claim that this behavior is lawful and constitutional, and that no other branch of government should be able to check their power. A chorus of millions of Americans is saying that the President and Vice President are wrong, and today, the City of San Francisco has complimented that chorus with an instrument of democracy, the direct referendum."
Coincidentally, Supervisor Daly's announcement of the San Francisco Impeachment Initiative coincides with the 32nd anniversary of the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. Dr. Daniel Ellsberg, a member of the Constitution Summer Advisory Board, leaked the now famous Pentagon Papers that the press ultimately used to reveal the impossibility of winning the war in Vietnam. President Nixon's retaliation against Dr. Ellsberg led directly to Nixon's resignation. Dr. Ellsberg said of Constitution Summer's work:
"The young men and women of Constitution Summer are like the people under General Washington in Valley Forge. And General Washington's ragtag group did win, incidentally."
In addition to the San Francisco initiative, lobbyists Susie Shannon of Poverty Matters and Sophie de Vries of After Downing Street met with staff from Assemblymember Paul Koretz's office in Sacramento, where Shannon and de Vries presented a petition with the names of thousands of Californians who support impeachment. Assemblymember Koretz is the author of the AJR39, a California-wide impeachment resolution that, if passed, would be transmitted to the House of Representatives via Rule 603 of Thomas Jefferson's Rules of Parliamentary Procedure, which allows state legislatures to transmit articles of impeachment directly to the House of Representatives. Rule 603 has been invoked successfully before: in 1903, Florida District Judge Charles Swayne was impeached in a process that started in the Florida State Legislature. In addition to California, resolutions to impeach President Bush are pending in the state legislatures of Illinois and Vermont.
* For articles of impeachment endorsed by Constitution Summer please visit www.ArticlesOfImpeachment.net