“l’e ‘tat c’est moi”* – A review of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” by Frank O. Bowman III

As an undergraduate student I aspired to being accepted into law school and one day being admitted to the bar but sometimes our paths lead us in different directions and our plans change of necessity. Nonetheless, my favorite electives were those on Constitutional Law so I was thrilled to have an opportunity to review “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” by Frank O. Bowman III. Make no mistake, this is a scholarly treatise par excellence. Bowman explores impeachment from its origins in Medieval England, through the American colonies, the U.S. Constitutional Conventions and on down through 200 plus years of American history. In its hard copy form it will surely be a weighty tome both literally and figuratively speaking. It is meticulously annotated, citing appropriate case law wherever applicable.

Bowman carefully examines the Founders’ reasoning for including impeachment in the Constitution, as well as who should have impeachment authority and when and how it should be exercised, including a detailed explanation of the importance of constitutional structure. He emphasizes the Founders determination that Congress be the fact finder and arbiter of the. constitutional impeachment process versus a judicial process.

This important work closely examines every facet of impeachment but these are most notable to me:

* the scope of impeachable presidential conduct

* the abuse of pardon power and its ramifications

* impeachment for obstruction of justice

* impeachment for lying as it pertains to official lies to the courts and Congress, including the history thereof and specific notable cases

* the inherent dangers in abuse of presidential power by encouraging supporters to press for reprisals against perceived domestic opponents

* impeachment for corruption including the emoluments clause and the Founders’ reasons for installing roadblocks to prevent an “avaricious president” from using his office for self-enrichment.

Bowman goes on to analyze the questions about impeachment of the current sitting President as a means of protecting the Constitution in a broader sense, particularly as to the marginalization of Congressional power which has devolved through Congress’ abdication of its’ responsibilities, leaving the country vulnerable to attack from within. Bowman truly covers it all. I’ve merely touched on a fraction of the issues facing us. Bowman doesn’t pussyfoot around the issues. He lays them bare and includes what he sees as possible (and probable) remedies.

I should interject here that the Mueller report had not been released to the public when Bowman’s publisher released the ARC for pre-publication review. Nonetheless, Bowman tackles all the critical issues, including the thorniest. That of Congressional responsibility to uphold and defend the Constitution and see that it is not flaunted, as well as serving as a deterrent to future presidents and the importance of not ignoring the current malfeasance and misfeasance that is occurring.

This is a work that should be in the library of anyone who loves the law, especially Constitutional Law, in all its complex and timeless glory. It has endured and served us well and, God willing, will continue to for centuries to come. It will, but only if we recognize its value and protect it from being shredded by the abuse of power from any and all sources.

*Reportedly Trump’s policy on foreign policy is “l’e ‘tat c’est moi” (I myself am the nation). I personally doubt he speaks a lick of French. He doesn’t speak his native language well enough to master another. Oh dear, my bias is showing.

My thanks to Net Galley for providing this Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest review. (Publication date 05 August 2019)

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