Meaning of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”
by Jon Roland, Constitution Society
The question of impeachment turns on the meaning of the phrase in the Constitution at Art. II Sec. 4, “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”. I have carefully researched the origin of the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” and its meaning to the Framers, and found that the key to understanding it is the word “high”. It does not mean “more serious”. It refers to those punishable offenses that only apply to high persons, that is, to public officials, those who, because of their official status, are under special obligations that ordinary persons are not under, and which could not be meaningfully applied or justly punished if committed by ordinary persons.
Under the English common law tradition, crimes were defined through a legacy of court proceedings and decisions that punished offenses not because they were prohibited by statutes, but because they offended the sense of justice of the people and the court. Whether an offense could qualify as punishable depended largely on the obligations of the offender, and the obligations of a person holding a high position meant that some actions, or inactions, could be punishable if he did them, even though they would not be if done by an ordinary person.
Offenses of this kind survive today in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It recognizes as punishable offenses such things as refusal to obey orders, abuse of authority, dereliction of duty, moral turpitude, and conduct unbecoming. These would not be offenses if committed by a civilian with no official position, but they are offenses which bear on the subject’s fitness for the duties he holds, which he is bound by oath or affirmation to perform.
Perjury is usually defined as “lying under oath”. That is not quite right. The original meaning was “violation of one’s oath (or affirmation)”.
The word “perjury” is usually defined today as “lying under oath about a material matter”, but that is not its original or complete meaning, which is “violation of an oath”. We can see this by consulting the original Latin from which the term comes. From An Elementary Latin Dictionary, by Charlton T. Lewis (1895), Note that the letter “j” is the letter “i” in Latin.
- periurium, i, n,, a false oath, perjury.
- periurus, adj., oath-breaking, false to vows, perjured. iuro, avi, atus, are, to swear, take an oath.
- iurator, oris, m., a swearer.
- iuratus, adj., sworn under oath, bound by an oath.
- ius, iuris, that which is binding, right, justice, duty.
- per, … IV. Of means or manner, through, by, by means of, … under pretense of, by the pretext of, ….
By Art. II Sec. 1 Cl. 8, the president must swear: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” He is bound by this oath in all matters until he leaves office. No additional oath is needed to bind him to tell the truth in anything he says, as telling the truth is pursuant to all matters except perhaps those relating to national security. Any public statement is perjury if it is a lie, and not necessary to deceive an enemy.
When a person takes an oath (or affirmation) before giving testimony, he is assuming the role of an official, that of “witness under oath”, for the duration of his testimony. That official position entails a special obligation to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and in that capacity, one is punishable in a way he would not be as an ordinary person not under oath. Therefore, perjury is a high crime.
An official such as the president does not need to take a special oath to become subject to the penalties of perjury. He took an oath, by Art. II Sec. 1 Cl. 8, to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” to the best of his ability. While he holds that office, he is always under oath, and lying at any time constitutes perjury if it is not justified for national security.
IF ‘ASSAULT WEAPONS’ ARE BAD…WHY DOES DHS WANT TO BUY 7,000 OF THEM FOR ‘PERSONAL DEFENSE’?
January 26, 2013
The Department of Homeland Security is seeking to acquire 7,000 5.56x45mm NATO “personal defense weapons” (PDW) — also known as “assault weapons” when owned by civilians. The solicitation, originally posted on June 7, 2012, comes to light as the Obama administration is calling for a ban on semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines.
Citing a General Service Administration (GSA) request for proposal (RFP), Steve McGough of RadioViceOnline.com reports that DHS is asking for the 7,000 “select-fire” firearms because they are “suitable for personal defense use in close quarters.” The term select-fire means the weapon can be both semi-automatic and automatic. Civilians are prohibited from obtaining these kinds of weapons.
The RFP describes the firearm as “Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) – 5.56x45mm NATO, select-fire firearm suitable for personal defense use in close quarters and/or when maximum concealment is required.” Additionally, DHS is asking for 30 round magazines that “have a capacity to hold thirty (30) 5.56x45mm NATO rounds.”
Republican New York state Sen. Greg Ball also issued a press release this week bringing attention to the weapons purchase request.
Calls made to DHS seeking information regarding whether or not the RFP was accepted and fulfilled were not immediately returned on Saturday.
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Thursday introduced legislation that would enact a so-called “assault weapons” ban. The bill would ban more than 150 firearms and limit magazines to 10 rounds. There is no expiration date on Feinstein’s bill.
Get all the details on the bill, including a list of firearms that would be banned, here.
Of equal importance:
Read at links below:
The following was posted on December 26, 2012 <<<NOTE THE DATE
Valerie Jarrett in Charge of DHS? The Jarrett/Napolitano Plans for America. Crisis on Horizon. Bill Ayers STILL an Influence.
They, I mean Jarrett and Obama as well as a few others in government, are working to create a perfect storm too. This is being timed to coincide with new gun laws.
DH: New federal gun laws?
RB: Yes. Count on the criminalization to possess just about every gun you can think of. Not only restrictions, but actual criminalization of possessing a banned firearm. I heard this directly from the highest of my sources. Plans were made in the 90s but were withheld. Now, it’s a new day, a new time, and they are riding the wave of emotion from Sandy Hook, which, by the way as tragic as it was, well, it stinks to high heaven. I mean there are many things wrong there, and first reports are fast disappearing. The narrative is being changed. Look, there is something wrong with Sandy Hook, but if you write it, you’ll be called a kook or worse.
RB: So what I’m telling you is that DHS, the TSA and certain, but not all, law enforcement agencies are going to be elbow deep in riot control in response to an economic incident. At the same time or close to it, gun confiscation will start. It will start on a voluntary basis using federal registration forms, then an amnesty, then the kicking-in of doors start.
Before or at the same time, you know all the talk of lists, you know, the red and blue lists that everyone made fun of? Well they exist, although I don’t know about their colors. But there are lists of political dissidents maintained by DHS. Names are coordinated with the executive branch, but you know what? They did not start with Obama. They’ve been around in one form or another for years. The difference though is that today, they are much more organized. And I’ll tell you that the vocal opponents of the politics of the global elite, the bankers, and the opponents of anything standing in their way, well, they are on the top of the list of people to be handled.
RB: As the situations worsen, some might be given a chance to stop their vocal opposition. Some will, others won’t. I suppose they are on different lists. Others won’t have that chance. By that time, though, it will be chaos and people will be in full defensive mode. They will be hungry, real hunger like we’ve never experienced before. They will use our hunger as leverage. They will use medical care as leverage.
DH: Will this happen all at once?
RB: They hope to make it happen at the same time. Big cities first, with sections being set apart from the rest of the country. Then the rural areas. There are two different plans for geographical considerations. But it will all come together.
DH: Wait, this sounds way, way over the top. Are you telling me… [Interrupts]
RB: [Over talk/Unintelligible] …know who was selected or elected twice now. You know who his associates are. And you are saying this is way over the top? Don’t forget what Ayers said – you talked to Larry Grathwohl. This guy is a revolutionary. He does not want to transform our country in the traditional sense. He will destroy it. And he’s not working alone. He’s not working for himself, either. He has his handlers. So don’t think this is going to be a walk in the park, with some type of attempt to rescue the country. Cloward-Piven. Alinsky. Marx. All rolled into one. And he won’t need the rest of his four years to do it.
DH: I need you to be clear. Let’s go back again, I mean, to those who speak out about what’s happening………..
Why Did The DHS, ICE Just Order 450 MILLION Rounds Of .40 Caliber Ammunition? WHO gave the Order To Do So? Obama? Holder? Napolitano?
First it Was DHS ordering Large Amounts of Ammo; Now The USDA And US Fish And Wildlife Order Massive Amounts Of Ammo
FORMER ‘BRAIN DEAD LIBERAL’ FILMMAKER PENS SCATHING COLUMN ON GUN CONTROL: ‘A POLITICAL APPEAL TO THE IGNORANT’
Why Was Obama’s “Brain” Valerie Jarrett So Happy to Hire Communist Van Jones? Was it Fate? Is She Obama’s Handler?
Valerie Jarrett: Obama’s not done campaigning
January 21, 2013<<Note date
We’ve already seen this strategy at work during the fiscal cliff when so-called middle-class voters were invited to attend a press conference, cheering and hooting in support of the president even though a fiscal cliff deal had not yet been struck.
The president employed the tactic again at his press conference announcing his gun control intentions, filling the room with children who had written to the president after the Newtown elementary school shooting.
“If we have the people behind us, then there are no limits to what we can do,” Jarrett said.
With this change, we’re likely to see even more rally-like pressers and campaign events in support of the president’s policy agenda.
“[You’re going to] see the president travelling around the country more, we’re going to have many more opportunities at the White House to bring people in to inform them and communicate and engage with them about our agenda. And if we have that, then we’re confident they can have a very robust second-term agenda.”