by Barbara Shrump

Recently, false comments have been circulating regarding the 2020 election. Fortunately, our forefathers were wise enough to include specific information in the Constitution that was to be followed for just such a situation. If you check Article 11, you will find information regarding the election of the president and when. Most unlikely, but if Congress would delay the election, the current president's term ends on January 20 no matter what according to amendment XX. The Constitution would need to be amended to do otherwise. The president could declare an emergency, but does not have the authority to move elections. Trying to plan for any occasion and depending on the past experience and knowledge, the framers projected far into the future to guide us through our current upheaval.


                               by Barbara Shrump

Amendment One: Freedom of religion, speech, and the press; rights of assembly and petition Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right to the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

On Saturday, June 6, at the Irwin Amphitheater, the surrounding area was treated to a presentation of our Constitution in action. Recent current issues prompted several Norwin High School students to organize an event to show support for the Black Lives Matter Movement, thus demonstrating one of our rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Even though African-Americans comprise only about one percent of the local population, Lily Janosz, one of the student organizers, stressed, "...It's a human rights issue." Student presenters, clergy, and professionals in related fields revealed their experiences. The 300 person group was predominantly a younger crowd, many were parents with children in strollers.

Even though concerns arose about disruptions, the event proceeded smoothly as a police presence watched from the hillside. Speakers followed one another quickly, while announcements alerted the audience to water. A register-to-vote area was available, and members of the younger crowd took advantage of the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in November.

Rightfully, Irwin officials recognized citizens' rights. Borough manager summarized one of our Constitutional guarantees when she said, "You can't give someone a permit for the right to free speech."


                                           by Barbara Shrump

Beginning in early February and continuing through April, the news has been dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. Rightfully so, the focus has been on health issues. Thus, the primary election season has been altered with postponements. Some states waited to the end to take action (Ohio) while others (Wisconsin) insisted on in-person voting with no absentee ballot extension. States have the authority to change primary election dates, but not the timing of the presidential election.

November third has been designated as the federal presidential date. According to the Article 11 of the Constitution, Congress holds the power to designate time and place for holding elections. Article 11 of the Constitution clearly states this congressional power with the added point that the date is the same throughout the United States. No president could revise this constitutional rule unless Congress approved, which is unlikely.

So even though citizens are greatly affected by the current medical issue, attention will need to be focused on the November election as we move through this medical emergency. Will mail-in voting become more widespread? Are there groups working in the background who hope to seize this national emergency to promote their agenda? Will this time of uncertainty be converted into an agenda that will further disenfranchise voters?

The right to vote is a most critical right in our democracy. The November third election is growing everyday as one of great consequence. When people vote, they represent America's ideals and promise.




                                                  By Barbara Shrump    

As we marked the start of a new year and decade, hopes and predictions for the future were proclaimed in print and televised media. As we looked ahead hoping momentarily to escape the present, the reality of the current presidential crises crept back into our consciousness. Before 2019 ended, the House passed two articles of impeachment regarding our current president.


So, talk has quickly returned to our Constitution, the backbone of our government. The framers of the Constitution divided the powers of impeachment between the House with the right to accuse, and the Senate with the right to judge. (Article 1, Section 2) (Article 1, Section 3) 

After lengthly televised hearings in the House, the stage was set for two Articles of Impeachment. Deemed as high crimes and misdmeaners, the President is charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

According to James Madison at the Constitutional Convention, "A president is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution." When dealing with impeachment, the framers wisely separated the duties of process. Do we wish they had offered more specifics? It would have been helpful, but they were composing guidelines that are being utilized over two hundred years later.


So, after the Articles of Impeachment were sent to the Senate, heated discussions were held regarding the regulations of the hearing with the president's allies seeking a reduced version of past impeachments. They pressed for a no-new witness, document set-up. The requests were tabled. Will they be considered again? As new evidence has been released since the proceedings started, the question of inclusion is still undecided but not likely.


What do you remember from your high school government classes? Did you discuss impeachment and its ramifications for our country? So, this new year and decade begins with an event that has occurred only three times in over two hundred years of our democracy. In closing, Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist, no 65 wrote, "Impeachment is designed as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public men." The result if this serious, but seldom used remedy will be decided by the Senate whose decision will always be part of our country's history. 


                           By Barbara Shrump

Even a casual news reader or television viewer should realize by now that the word impeachment is a constant in print and broadcast media and online outlets. So what does impeachment mean and why the significance? Impeachment is a part of our Constitution. Why did the framers think it was necessary to include a mechanism to remove a president from office?

We need to keep in mind who our forefathers were and how their life experiences may have affected their thinking. Recalling one-person rule or using past government experiences, the framers acted accordingly when formulating the basis or guidelines for our government. Fear of foreign influences was paramount. They promoted three branches of government to provide a system of checks and balances so that no branch would attempt to usurp power from another. The framers anticipated the possibility that a president would need to be removed from office through impeachment. The authority was delegated to Congress with the House acting as investigators and the Senate as a jury. Hopefully, without bias and remembering their oath to the Constitution, Congress determines if the president is guilty of treason, bribery or other high crimes or misdemeanors.

As many of us do when we write, we start with a rough draft, revise and decide upon a final copy. Even after the final copy, later we think we should have been more clear or offered more supporting facts. Deadlines or circumstances often leads to not including enough support or direction. So, when people read our material, they wish we had offered more factual explanation. The areas of our Constitution regarding impeachment often prompt such a response. We know what Article 11, Section 4 says, and we know that an impeachment inquiry originates the House of Representatives. Congress refers to past impeachments as points of reference to determine whether to proceed.

Regarding the impeachment process, discussions have developed and raged concerning the lack of detail in the Constitution concerning the impeachment process. The lack of specificity troubles some, but Congress through evidential hearings will determine the outcome. 

Impeachment will be a constant topic in the future with the resulting action a reference to our Constitution and the stability of our form of government.

©2019 by Norwin Area Democrats.