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The Executive Branch Must Act Within Its Authority

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Published in Galveston County Daily News
March 28, 2023

In the Constitution, a power to remove executive officers from office resides in the House of Representatives. Article II Section IV reads, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The sole power to impeach resides with the House while the sole power to try resides in the Senate requiring 2/3rds to convict. The impeachment power limits Congress with only the power to remove. Civil or criminal courts still retain powers to try accused after the Senate conviction. The purpose and procedures illustrate the founders thinking about separation of powers.

During the Constitutional Convention our founders wrestled with defining high crimes and misdemeanors. 

- James Madison (VA) argued that there needed to be some provision that defended the nation against an office holder who was incapable of performing his or her duties and for situations of negligence or “perfidy” (deceitfulness or untrustworthiness).  But he also objected to overly broad terms such as “maladministration.”

- Gouverneur Morris (NY), who wrote much of the final wording of our Constitution, argued that a President should be impeached for foreign bribery or, as we call it today, “Pay to Play.”

- Ben Franklin (PA) argued that some means was needed to remove a person in order to avoid the alternative of assassination!

- James Iredell (NC) felt any action causing injury to the government (the nation) should be reason for impeachment.

But having a tight yet all-inclusive definition of a basis for impeachment was difficult to achieve.  However, there was a common thread – any significant offense against the government (meaning the country and its people) should be adequate grounds.

There was also much discussion about civil officers and its clear members of the President’s cabinet were to be subject to impeachment.  The question argued today is does the action or inaction of cabinet members such as Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of Home Land Security, make them subject to impeachment?  Since Mayorkas’s confirmation, illegal border crossing have skyrocketed into millions a year while, arguably, he has failed to take actions to stem the tide.  He claims no border crisis exists while local residents along the southern border feel differently -- being invaded with both illegal drugs from drug mules and illegal residents at rates never before experienced. But it goes beyond the border.  Local communities throughout the nation are feeling the impact in the form of drug overdoses, human trafficking,  not to mention the economic impact of housing, educating, and providing medical care for those who are here illegally. 

In the historical context of impeachable actions, Moyorkos’ actions, or inaction, fit the definition.  Texas, is suffering and bleeding from DHS’s inaction. It seems to us that the Secretary’s action/nonaction fits within the design placed by the founders to deal with gross incompetency and public injury. Although, some disagree, we can’t see other viable choices.

About the Authors and Columnists
Bill Sargent and Mark Mansius


Bill Sargent and Mark Mansius have written
over 250 guest columns since 2014 and continue to do so.
Bill lives in Galveston, Texas and Mark in St. Georges, Utah.
Both ran against each other in the 2012 Republican Primary
for Texas Congressional District 14, since then
they have become close friends and colleagues.