Can a President be Arrested?

May 31, 2012

 

BY Bertrum J Meisner Jr Have you ever considered is it possible to arrest the sitting President of the United States? Is it legal to actually arrest him? Is he above the law? In America we have been proud of the fact that we could say that no one is above the law, but is that really true today?

                Congress has passed laws that exempt them from their own laws, isn’t that putting them above the law. They can do insider trading, they have their own health care plan, they have their own “social security system” for their retirement and they continually pass laws that they aren’t subject to but we are. Doesn’t that make them above the law?

 The President has a security detail called the Secret Service that isolates him from ANY threat that may come his way. If any law enforcement official dared to approach him, they could easily keep him safe from the lawman and any legal action he may want to take against the president.  The present executive branch of government has repeatedly displayed its disregard for the law of the land and has done many things outside of Constitutional Law. Doesn’t that make them above the law?

The Supreme Court is the last word in our legal system but they can rule on matters of law without using true Constitutional Law to justify their rulings. They can rule according to their “hearts” and not by the law. They do this by using a twisted view of the Constitution to argue for their ruling.  They can be impeached for any offenses that they may commit but not for any rulings they might submit. Doesn’t that make them above the law?

If you research whether the president can or cannot be arrested, you will get so many different answers that it will blow your mind. It seems that everyone has their own opinion on this matter but few will give you a legal precedence on the matter.  That is understandable since it has never happened, in the entire history of America.  Even Nixon avoided being arrested and convicted by resigning first, so even the worst of the presidents have avoided this problem, at least so far!

                It is amazing the answers you get when you search the internet on this subject. The answers vary from a duly elected Sheriff, the Attorney General, Provost Marshall, US Marshall, US Fire Marshall, the FBI, a Military Tribunal of the JCS, State Government or by a Citizen’s Arrest.  There is even a belief that during war time the president can be shot on the spot for committing treason against America but only during war time. There is another thought that the president is immune from arrest and prosecution as long as he is in office. All the confusion is understandable because the Constitution is vague in this area. It states that the president can be impeached for committing certain crimes but that is all it says. The Constitution is silent on what happens before and after any impeachment and conviction by Congress.

                A common thought is that since he is an elected government representative, then only an elected law enforcement officer can arrest him and that person would be a Sheriff. The problem with that logic is, if that was true then wouldn’t it be true of ALL elected government representatives? I don’t think there is any problem with arresting other elected officials.

                Many believe that since every soldier has to take an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic, then that makes the military the guardian of the Constitution. That would give the Joint Chiefs of Staff the power to defend it against ALL attacks, even by our own government and its officials. It is believed that the JCS could convene a tribunal to decide whether to arrest the treasonous party even if it is the president. But you have to bear in mind that this isn’t spelled out in any legal code within our laws, it is just implied. One would have to wonder if this has any bearing on the cleansing of the brass that appears to be going on within the military today.

I have found one and only one person that has been specifically given the power within our government to arrest the president. The Senate Sergeant at Arms has the power to arrest anyone that violates Senate rules. The proof is in the following government website where it states: The Sergeant at Arms is authorized to arrest and detain any person violating Senate rules, including the President of the United States.” http://www.senate.gov/reference/office/sergeant_at_arms.htm  This is the ONLY place I can find, in our government where there is an actual statement, that specifically states the president can be arrested and by whom. However this statement covers a very narrow area of power because it states this can only happen if he violates the Senate rules.

                The House of Representatives has the power to impeach the president but then the Senate must convict him before any punishment can be handed out.  The question remains, what can be done before and after that? The Constitution says that Congress can have tribunals which are inferior to the Supreme Court. Does that mean that if a president is impeached and convicted by both houses of congress then their tribunal can be over ruled by the Supreme Court, it would seem so?  Since Congress is inferior in their tribunals, can it be said that the Supreme Court could also convict a president in their superior tribunals? It would appear that The Supreme Court doesn’t have superior tribunal powers when it comes to impeachment because in reference to the Supreme Court powers, the Constitution states: The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury…” It makes an exception in impeachment cases but it doesn’t spell our exactly what that exception is.

                The Constitution isn’t silent about why the president can be removed it states: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  From this we can see that the only way to remove a president is by impeachment AND conviction of treason, bribery, high crimes or misdemeanors.  This also hints to the fact that the president cannot be arrested until he has been convicted by the Senate. It would seem conceivable that the Senate’s Sergeant at Arms can then officially arrest and imprison him. He cannot be removed from office until after he is convicted and no sitting president will ever be imprisoned as long as he has the power of the Presidency at his disposal. Logic would then suggest that no sitting president can ever be arrested until he is removed from office.

                Is this the only constitutionally stated method to arrest an acting president? It sure seems so at least from what I have found.  Although I have wondered, what would happen if several million citizens all swore out a warrant for his arrest then proceeded to merged on the White House at the same time to arrest him? I’m certain that the Secret Service would keep the crowd at bay, but how could the media, Congress and the Supreme Court ignore such a statement by the populous? Could he claim immunity? Could he declare martial law and take total control of the government by military force? Could he just ignore them and go about his business as if nothing was happening? It boggles the mind considering the possibilities, but it is something I would love to see play out. BJMJr

 

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