CHICAGO — Last month Illinois state Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D) introduced into the General Assembly House Joint Resolution 125, calling for procedures of impeachment to begin against President George W. Bush for violating his oath of office.
In a recent telephone interview, Yarbrough talked about how she came across Section 603 of Thomas Jefferson’s “Manual of Parliamentary Practice and Rules of the House of Representatives,” written in 1801, and immediately saw its contemporary relevance.
According to the manual, “There are various methods of setting an impeachment in motion. … [One of them is] by charges transmitted from the legislature of a state.”
Yarbrough’s resolution points out that the Bush administration has used the National Security Agency to illegally spy on American citizens, broke the Geneva Conventions’ torture provisions, and lied to the world and misguided the nation into a deadly war with Iraq.
Yarbrough said she “discovered a trap door that Jefferson left us,” and introduced the resolution to see if it would get traction. She mentioned that people are “kind of squeamish about doing something during an election year.”
Nonetheless, “even some Republicans have supported this resolution,” she said. So far it has 20 co-sponsors.
Although the Illinois General Assembly spring session is over and it won’t meet again until November, Yarbrough feels that the resolution has “given people a reason to hope.”
“The bottom line,” she said, “is that Bush is bad news, and that he has decided to do his crime, and those crimes are grounds for impeachment.”
Issues like health care here at home are important, said Yarbrough, yet the Bush administration is spending billions of dollars on the war in Iraq.
“We think about the lies, our young people in harm’s way, 2,400 of them coming home in body bags. Bush misled the country about Iraq.”
Yarbrough said she has heard from many countries as far away as “New Zealand, England, Cuba, Spain and all over the world, that this president has not done the right thing.”
“Sometimes when Congress doesn’t act,” she said, “the state must step up and do something.”
Yarbrough agrees with the strategy to “take back” Congress from the right-wing Republicans and build voter confidence.
Paul Koretz, a member of the California State Assembly, and Vermont state Rep. Dave Zuckerman have also introduced impeachment resolutions, and are expected to have debates of their own legislatures.
Democratic state legislators in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Nevada and North Carolina are also considering impeachment or censure proposals.
In Chicago, a group of activists including administrative law judge Ann Breen-Greco has sent a letter to the City Council asking aldermen to adopt their own impeachment resolution.
If Yarbrough’s resolution passes the Illinois General Assembly, it would then go to the U.S. House, where it would be referred to the Judiciary Committee.