BREAKING NEWS: Bipartisan Group of 20 Past Presidents of the DC Bar Write to the House of Representatives Endorsing Impeachment Inquiry

Twenty past presidents of the District of Columbia Bar, which numbers more than 100,000 attorneys in all 50 states, today released a statement endorsing House impeachment proceedings. The signers, both Republican and Democrat, write:

“Nothing is more fundamental to American democracy than the Rule of Law.. We have watched with dismay the persistent disregard for the Rule of Law during the current Administration, a pattern and practice that is so pervasive and pernicious that only the impeachment process can attempt to rectify the President’s abuse of office…”

“We are united in the view that our constitutional system depends on adhering to the Rule of Law, not only by private citizens but more crucially by public officials charged with the power and responsibility of important government offices…”

“The Framers of our Constitution were careful to build in a safety valve to protect the Nation when the person who was elected to the high office of President engages in high crimes and misdemeanors after he takes office, that is, when he violates the most fundamental precepts of constitutional order.  Reluctantly, but firmly, we believe that this President has engaged in such offenses and, therefore, is subject to being impeached by the House of Representatives.”

10.23.2019
For immediate release

Open Letter from Past Presidents of The District of Columbia Bar
to the Members of the House of Representatives

“IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS ARE NECESSARY TO RESTORE AND PROTECT THE RULE OF LAW”

                 Nothing is more fundamental to American democracy than the Rule of Law.  As Past Presidents of The District of Columbia Bar, we have watched with dismay the persistent disregard for the Rule of Law during the current Administration, a pattern and practice that is so pervasive and pernicious that only the impeachment process can attempt to rectify the President’s abuse of office.  Therefore, we endorse and encourage the continuing pursuit of impeachment proceedings by the House of Representatives to prepare for a vote on appropriate articles of impeachment of the President.

The District of Columbia Bar is the largest unified bar in the United States, with membership of more than 100,000 lawyers in all 50 states and more than 80 countries.  The Presidents of the Bar are elected directly by the members.  Past Presidents are Republicans and Democrats.  We are lawyers whose primary careers have been in government service, in private practice in large and small firms, in the academic community, in public interest organizations, in corporate law departments, or in a combination of those experiences.  Our respective terms span a period of more than forty years.  We have conflicting perspectives on many issues of law and policy.  But we are united in the view that our constitutional system depends on adhering to the Rule of Law, not only by private citizens but more crucially by public officials charged with the power and responsibility of important government offices.

Respect for the Rule of Law by the President of the United States is the fulcrum on which our legal system rests.  The President’s essential constitutional duty is to “take care” that the laws are “faithfully executed.”  Therefore, when a President violates this public trust, the entire constitutional system is thrown out of balance, all to the damage of the country at large.  The incumbent President has deliberately and persistently reneged on this public trust and, as a consequence, has made himself liable to being removed from his office through the constitutionally established process of impeachment and trial.

There are two clusters of abuse that fall within our areas of special concern as Bar leaders.  One is the President’s pattern of obstruction of justice.  Among the instances of obstruction are those described in detail in the Report submitted by our fellow member of The District of Columbia Bar, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.  His careful investigation, ably aided by a number of our other colleagues, documented repeated instances in which the President sought to interfere with investigations, by his office, by other Justice Department prosecutors, and by counter-intelligence agencies.  Other similar instances of the President’s disregard for the ordinary course of federal criminal justice have come to light outside the Mueller Report.   Nothing is more in conflict with a President’s constitutional duty to take care that the laws are faithfully executed than the President’s obstructing the enforcement of those laws.

The public record shows a second cluster of abuses that strike at the heart of the Rule of Law: the President’s pattern of flouting the legitimate role of Congress in seeking information for performing its functions.  Our constitutional system of Separation of Powers wisely allocates important powers to the Legislative Branch, including the power both to enact laws and also to oversee their sufficiency and their honest, honorable, and effective implementation.  Not only has the President displayed disdain for the role of Congress in our constitutional system, he has gone to the unprecedented extreme of directing the entire Executive Branch to ignore congressional requests for material information, and even has directed government officials to flout congressional subpoenas.  This imperious attitude betrays a disregard for the authority of the Legislative Branch, a vital element in the Separation of Powers that is crucial to the maintenance of the Rule of Law.

The Framers of our Constitution were careful to build in a safety valve to protect the Nation when the person who was elected to the high office of President engages in high crimes and misdemeanors after he takes office, that is, when he violates the most fundamental precepts of constitutional order.  Reluctantly, but firmly, we believe that this President has engaged in such offenses and, therefore, is subject to being impeached by the House of Representatives.  No lesser response would be adequate in order begin to restore and protect the Rule of Law.

Signed [in reverse chronological order]*

Esther Lim (2018-2019) (former Board of Governors, National Asian Pacific
American Bar Association).

Patrick McGlone (2017-2018) (corporate general counsel)

Annamaria Steward (2016—2017) (executive director, national legal
organization; former law school Dean of Students)

Andrea C. Ferster (2013-2014) (lawyer in private practice)

Kim Keenan (2009-2010) (former General Counsel, National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People)

Melvin White (2008-2008) (U.S. Air Force Veteran; lawyer in private practice)

John C Cruden (2005-2006) (former Assistant Attorney General, Environment
and Natural Resources Division, Department of Justice)

Jack Keeney, Jr. (2004-2005) (Delegate, American Bar Association House of
Delegates)

George W. Jones, Jr. (2002-2003) (former Assistant to the Solicitor General,
Department of Justice)

John W. Nields, Jr.  (2000-2001) (former Chief Counsel, House of
Representatives Ethics Committee; Chief Counsel, House Select
Iran/Contra Committee; Special Counsel for public integrity
prosecutions, Department of Justice)

Joan H. Strand (1999-2000) (Professor Emerita of Clinical Law, George
Washington University Law School)

Andrew H. Marks (1998-1999) (former Executive Assistant to President’s
Personal Representative to the Middle East Peace Negotiations)

Pauline A. Schneider (1994-1995) (Delegate, American Bar Association House
of Delegates)

Sara-Ann Determan (1990-1991) (former chair, Lawyers Committee for Civil
Rights and Urban Affairs)

Philip Allen Lacovara (1988-1989) (former Deputy Solicitor General and
Counsel to Watergate Special Prosecutor, Department of Justice;
Special Counsel to House of Representatives Ethics Committee)

Marna S. Tucker (1984-1985) (Past President, National Conference of Bar
Presidents)

Stephen J. Pollak (1980-1981) (former Advisor to the President of the United
States for National Capital Affairs; Assistant Attorney General, Civil
Rights Division, Department of Justice)

Robert L. Weinberg (1978-1979) (former President, Bar Association of District
of Columbia and university lecturer in law)

Charles R. Work (1976-1977) (former Deputy Administrator, Law Enforcement
Assistance Administration, Department of Justice)

Katherine Mazzaferri (1982-2017) (former Executive Director and Chief
Executive Officer, The District of Columbia Bar)

_____

  • Illustrative affiliations are for identification purposes only; these views are not intended to be attributed to The District of Columbia Bar organization or to the other entities identified; the remaining surviving Past Presidents who have not joined in this statement cited various conflicting professional engagements, such as government-related employment or representation of clients in the matter; no Past President expressed disagreement with these conclusions.