The Transylvania Times -

No One Is Above The Law


July 16, 2018

Last week, President Trump announced Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. While there are dozens of issues that could come before the court in the coming years – abortion, privacy, assembly, religion, speech, etc. – there is one issue that should be of grave concern to Americans of any political persuasion. That issue is the exemption of the president from criminal investigations and indictments.

In the 1990s, Kavanaugh was a member of Kenneth Starr’s team that investigated then President Bill Clinton. Since that time Kavanaugh has written two legal articles indicating that he does not believe a president can be investigated while in office.

In 2009, Kavanaugh wrote “I believe the president should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office” and that “Like civil suits, criminal investigations take the president’s focus away from his or her responsibilities to the people, and a president who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as president.”

These beliefs are antithetical to logic, history and Supreme Court precedents. First, committing a crime, particularly one that would compel the president to testify or turn over emails, recordings, etc. is not a “burden of ordinary citizenship.” The president rightly is excluded from some of the “burdens of ordinary citizenship,” such as serving on a jury, but no one, ordinary or extraordinary, should be exempt from criminal prosecution.

As for a criminal investigation being a distraction, presidents throughout history have had to deal with all sorts of distractions. Lincoln had to deal with Mrs. Lincoln’s mental instability, yet he handled the most difficult time in American history unbelievably well. F.D.R. had to deal with his poor health, yet he led the country out of the Great Depression and through World War II. Thomas Jefferson had to deal with the declining health and death of several family members, yet he wrote the Declaration of Independence, negotiated the Louisiana Purchase and had a successful presidency. It’s not as if modern presidents’ time is completely full. Modern-day presidents have taken dozens of golfing trips, long vacations, etc. If time is such a precious commodity, they could curtail those activities. Presidents throughout history have been able to handle a multitude of time-consuming tasks, and to claim that having a singular distraction makes them less effective is historically not true.

In 1998 Kavanaugh wrote “that congressional investigation must take place in lieu of criminal investigation when the president is the subject of investigation, and that criminal prosecution can occur only after the president has left office.”

To follow this line of thinking, the president could commit any crime, even a heinous one such as rape, and could not be criminally prosecuted until after leaving office. This gives the president or his subordinates a green light to engage or cover up criminal activity.

Kavanaugh’s writings also are in contradiction to recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding the president and criminal investigations. In 1974, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that President Nixon had to comply with a subpoena seeking tapes of his conversations in the Oval Office.

In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a sexual harassment suit could be brought against President Clinton while he was in office.

In both cases, the decisions were unanimous and appointees of both those presidents voted against those presidents from being exempt for criminal investigations.

The president is the most powerful man in the country, if not the world. As evidenced by the increasing number of executive orders and the dysfunction of Congress, the presidency is accruing more power with every term. To believe that the president cannot be investigated for criminal activity will only add to that power. All Americans should be concerned about one person having so much power.

Our country, our government, is based on all people being treated equally. No one is above the law.


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