If a judge’s ruling that declares President George W. Bush’s domestic spying program unconstitutional holds up under appeal, the President will be guilty of violating federal law at least 30 times and that could provide grounds for impeachment, says a leading Constitutional scholar.
Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University and a recognized expert on constitutional law, says the ruling Thursday by a federal judge in Detroit raises “serious implications for the Bush administration” and indicates that the President “could well have committed a federal crime at least 30 times.”
“This ruling is a bad situation that just got worse for the White House,” says Turley. “These crimes could constitute impeachable offenses.”
Turley knows a thing or two about the impeachment process. He worked with Special Prosecutor Ken Starr on the investigation that led to impeachment proceedings against former President Bill Clinton.
U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, in a stinging indictment of Constitutional abuse by the Bush Administration over its use of warrantless wiretaps of American citizens by the National Security Agency, ruled the program violates the Administrative Procedures Act, the doctrine of separation of powers, and the First and Fourth amendments to the Constitution and ordered an immediate halt to the practice.
“There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all ‘inherent powers’ must derive from that Constitution,” Taylor wrote in her lengthy opinion.
The White House went into immediate attack mode, claiming Taylor is an activist judge appointed by a Democratic president (Jimmy Carter) and vowing to appeal the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court.
A Republican National Committee press release declared: Liberal judge backs Dem agenda to weaken national security.
Turley says such tactics are typical for the Bush White House.
“That’s what’s really distasteful,” Turley said Thursday night on MNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann show. “This is not the first judge to rule against the administration. But every time a judge rules against the administration, they’re either too Democratic or they’re too tall or too short, or they’re Pisces. I mean, it, you can, all this spin, this effort to personalize it is really doing a great injustice to our system. If you look at this opinion, it’s a very thoughtful opinion. The problem is not the judge. The problem is a lack of authority. You know, when Gonzales says I’ve got something back in my safe, and if you could see it, you’d all agree with me, well, unless there’s a federal statute in his safe, then it’s not going to make a difference.”
The judge’s order to halt the program is stayed during the appeal process and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales vowed the domestic spying program will continue during those appeals, which could extend well beyond the end of Bush’s final term in office.