Since the Justice Department sued Arizona over SB-1070, its harsh new anti-immigration law, Republicans have been blasting the Obama administration, saying officials are showing “contempt for the majority of the American people who support Arizona’s efforts.” Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and David Vitter (R-LA) have even introduced an amendment that would prohibit the federal government from “participating in lawsuits seeking to invalidate the recently enacted Arizona immigration law.”
On Wednesday, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) was on Lou Dobbs’ radio show and went a step further. He agreed with Dobbs’ statement that President Obama is “awfully close” to violating his “oath to protect the Constitution of the United States” by not completely securing the border:
DOBBS: The fact that we’ve witnessed both the Bush administration and now the Obama administration…refuse to secure the borders, refuse to enforce immigration law — at what point does this rise to the level of a breach of oath to protect the Constitution of the United States? SMITH: I think we’re on the verge of being there right now. … Whatever law they’re not enforcing, I think it comes awfully close to a violation of their oath of office.
Neither Dobbs nor Smith mention the word impeachment, but in the past, a violation of the oath of office has been cited as grounds for such a procedure. During President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) said:
The debate about impeachment during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 makes it clear that the Framers of the Constitution regarded impeachment and removal from office on conviction as a remedy for a fundamental betrayal of trust by the President. The Framers had invested the presidential office with great powers. They knew that those powers could be — and would be — abused if any President were to violate, in a fundamental way, the oath he had sworn to faithfully execute the nation’s laws.
For if the President did so violate his oath of office, the covenant of trust between himself and the American people would be broken.
Is Smith really therefore interested in impeaching Obama over the immigration issue?