The Story Behind
Will of the People
Powers of the People
Laws of the Founding Fathers
The people have authority defined by the founding fathers to change what they don't like about government. That authority comes from basic rights and laws the founders fought to win. They are found in our nation's documents and founder's writings. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution defines those basic rights. The people's powers are described as delegating and augmenting authority of the federal government. The people can protest, petition, and assemble to be heard. Other writings indicate that power includes recall (to hold another election), and even revoke authority (remove from office for crimes).
That is the authority this agency has been given by will of the people. The following draft was a letter to the head of a political action group regarding impeachment of a sitting president. It expresses how this group came about (edited for content). The letter was never forwarded to whom it was intended for... further exacerbating tension and the need to take action.
Alternatives To Impeachment
Lessons of the 2012 Continental Congress
I’m no attorney, but it’s my understanding it’s not necessarily a given which direction (this set of) circumstance is going to play out. We don’t know if Mueller is going to seek for indictment or impeachment (of Donald Trump). We don’t know if it goes to impeachment what the Senate will do. Wouldn’t it stand to reason then that we should have as many options at the ready in our arsenal to steer this somewhat (to enforce the recall)? Looking at a conventional impeachment process there are perhaps too many unknowns.
In my experience with various protest efforts, there were legal options presented that are potentially viable, applicable, and could be used precisely for this. So, I want to take a moment to share what that history is, how it looked like, and how it is that we arrived at the idea that there may even be options to traditional impeachment. So if I may, let me tell you about the history of the movement...
• The 2012 Continental Congress came out of the 99% movement and the protests by Occupy Wall Street leading up to that. I was a delegate in this body of over 800 delegates from all across the nation, primarily about corrupt government and civil liberties that had been eroded. The Continental Congress then presented a petition of 13 Sections, addressing every civil liberty we thought applied.
• The federal government did not recognize the petition, or acknowledge the grievance, or bring any measure of correction. In April of 2013, after repeated attempts to garner any response from the federal government, the Continental Congress decided to disband the group. Prior to disbanding, the Congress authorized delegates to pursue whatever course they saw fit, including subcommittees working on intermediate solutions. My directive was to spearhead a subcommittee charged with identifying and marking out the precise legal remedies for holding government accountable to the rights of the people found in extensions and enumerations of the Bill of Rights. Since November (of that year), my subcommittee had been working on these solutions and were just a few short weeks away from presenting a potentially significant document, in the hope our efforts would somehow bring resolve.
• Our first order of business was to officially recognize the actions and inactions on the part of government had left a grievance unresolved. It was believed by the group that the state was acting against itself and this precise circumstance is destructive. The group felt responsibility to act, that the baton had been passed to us, and that it was time critical in that sense the circumstance could not be left in its current state. It was believed that federal district court process would force us to drag the issue through the appeals process, when we did not even have the resources to seriously continue the fight, let alone launch a long legal battle. Some of our Occupier friends had been harassed or jailed, and in all honesty we did not have the stamina or the heart.
• We knew that in the 2000 election between Bush and Gore, there was an issue over Florida ballots in which had to be decided by the Supreme Court, due to its sense of urgency and applicability. At the time, we felt something like this was our best option, even if it was a longshot. After making the decision to petition the Supreme Court directly, it was immediately understood we had to address the issue of how. It was believed we could file an Extraordinary Writ for unusual circumstance. It was our understanding that only one exception was needed to file, when we had well over ten. The group felt we had a reasonable chance of having our case heard and submitted the writ.
• We received a letter back from the clerk of the Supreme Court stating the writ was not on the correct paper size, called booklet format. The group had double checked that the paper size was correct according to the 2010 Rules of the Supreme Court. Members of the group were either livid or frustrated with this technicality. We weren’t attorneys - could it be the Supreme Court was obstructing our right to have our case heard? We felt there was an injustice committed against us and the people. We were at a crossroads. The question was simply, “Where do we go from here?” We were left with a conundrum where we believed the Constitution to be hanging in the balance on the part of two branches, and now the effort appeared obstructed by a third. (Click on "Constitutional Process" for details.)
• Ideas began to be tossed around the room, so to speak, even though it was phone calls and emails. In this organic process, we tried to regroup our thoughts and come up with solid direction. It was suggested perhaps we could turn to the founding fathers, where, for example, John Adams made various comments about steps for protecting life and liberty. Thomas Jefferson himself advocated for a fourth branch of government in his address to James Madison. And, George Washington in his letter to his nephew Bushrod in 1787 described how that if government does something that is not to the liking of the people, that the people can and should recall their public servants. We thought recall was the best option to move this forward.
• We knew the recall was a stretch, but taking what we considered to be the next decisive step in being heard, and we recognized we didn’t have anything to lose by it. We looked into prior attempts at a federal recall. There were attorneys had written commentary on this and suggested that statism was typically behind it. A Senate commission ruled that a state-led recall of federal officials was a conflict of powers. Attorney David Grossneck stated in 2009 that a people-led recall is a different circumstance, and does not present any conflict although it has not been attempted before.
• With this research on federal recalls presented to us, we didn’t really have an array of options at the time. This is what we knew. We knew it was our responsibility and our duty as members of the delegation, but also on behalf of the people. We filed recall election papers with all 50 states and the 5 U.S. territories. There were 2 states that accepted the filings, CA & RI. All the states refused to send out voter materials. Only the members of our group were aware of this nationwide effort. We were left with the feeling this was a longshot, but we went forward with the recall in the hope some form of legal enforcement might be available to us in a subsequent effort.
• To enforce the recall and rights of the people, we attempted various federal court filings, memorandums, notices to the federal government to no avail. Basically, we were wasting time and effort. The members of the group felt this was the last straw. We couldn’t believe we were at this point, again! At this juncture, it was the general consensus of the group the federal government had wronged the people and the Constitution, and that the First Amendment had even failed in some measure. I don’t remember how it came up, but it was brought up the powers of the people in the 10th Amendment. And my understanding is, even though the powers of the people are not defined in the Tenth Amendment, there is a clue, in describing federal powers as being delegated. That might be a nod implying the powers of the people in the Declaration of Independence is a carry over.
• In the Declaration, Paragraph 2, it specifies government derives its power from consent of the governed. It goes on to say, whenever any government is destructive of these types of protections, it is a right and power of the people to alter or abolish it. Might it be possible for the people to revoke their consent to be governed, not merely protest? And, could it be supported that there are powers assumed by the people after revoking federal authority? In an article put forth by the Bar Association a few years ago, when the Magna Carte had its 800th year anniversary, it suggested the Fourth branch has power over the government to hold accountable by consent. And Thomas Jefferson referred to the people as the fourth branch of government in his letter to James Madison. It occurred to us that any powers that the federal government may hold in the Articles, those powers may be redelegated and assumed by the fourth branch.
• We believe those powers in the Tenth Amendment include authority to impeach. And, if we have impeachment authority, might we impeach those responsible for the expressed purpose of restoring civil liberty? Because, as we saw it, at least two branches of the federal government had wronged the people and the Constitution. We asserted those rights and powers for the removal of grievances of the people and the demand for equitable laws, and there is more. Much more. We went to great lengths to see the restoration of civil liberty in the United States, which will all sound outlandish at first. We believed circumstances had warranted it. But we no longer had the support of the 99% organization behind us and couldn’t sustain a fight against the government. What matters is, that we have fleshed out a possible course for a people-led impeachment.
• The notion by John Adams that a monarchy could be utilized to preserve life and liberty for powers not delegated is part of the fourth branch concept. My group believed that perhaps what John Adams was alluding to was some sort of temporary executive, as heretical as it sounds, to restore civil liberty without obstruction on the part of the Legislative Branch. We believe similar to a debtor’s levy for a business, an interim President could be installed to assume the constitutional responsibility of the government, presumably until the grievance is resolved. We also believed this was dangerous, and defined checks and balances for its use. But, whether by recall or impeachment, the case could be made a government not subject to the Constitution or the people may invoke the fourth branch. This is one way where we may have the means to do something about (getting our voices heard).
What I want to convey here, is that perhaps there are possibilities for alternatives walked out by my group’s efforts that are determined to be sufficiently out of the box that it catches conservatives off guard, and could be vetted so that it passes the muster of law. You know, whether we win back the House or not is no slam dunk, and neither is the executive branch. Even if Mueller does manage to implicate the Trump (administration), what guarantee is there? Trump is already playing the politic card well in advance of the outcome. Trump’s team is expecting a conventional removal from office. He brought in Giuliani to get in front of this and strengthen his base. Whereas, recent polling data shows Democrats having only a 6% lead come November. And, the idea of a partisan Speaker (of the House) becoming president, as social commentary suggests, may result in the political equivalent of a civil war.
Sure, I understand none of this is traditional and it’s not been tried successfully before. Heck, it may not even seem obvious how we are going to do this yet. It doesn’t mean an unconventional method couldn’t work. It just means we have our work cut out for us. As I understand it, utilizing traditional impeachment offers messy politics. We don’t want the wrong person in as president (and lose everything we have worked for). The way to win, then, would be exploring together the best mechanism in which brings forward some of these lessons learned and with an eye to someone (who will not be) trampling on these civil liberties that have been hard fought and hard earned. Do we? Now, this may sound ridiculous, but since federal powers have been contested by every measure known, might a House committee approve the recall of 2014 and install a President this Summer - rather than waiting a year or more for the outcome of this scenario to play out?
Regardless, maybe we don’t know the outcome of the Mueller investigation, whether it results in indictment or impeachment, and if there is an impeachment trial there is no guarantee the Senate will impeach, and maybe we don’t know the outcome of the election in November, but perhaps we have in our arsenal of alternatives a potential solution that can help steer whatever crossroads we come to, and have fleshed out and available at the ready. Let’s do whatever it takes to see the outcome of this effort be a success and see that come to fruition. For that reason, my goal is to put before you alternatives.
I’d love to explore the idea of a coordinated effort with (you).
-Stephen L. Rush
1. June 6, 2018. Letter to Tom Steyer, Need To Impeach campaign, c/o Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.