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400 Scholars Dismiss Impeachment Case

By Laurie Kellman
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, November 7, 1998

As a congressional subcommittee prepares to consider what constitutes grounds for impeachment, more than 400 legal scholars are issuing a report saying the case against President Clinton falls short.

Even the charge that Clinton lied under oath does not constitute an impeachable offense because he did not misuse his office, three of the law professors told reporters today.

"There's nothing official about his misconduct," University of Texas law professor Douglas Laycock said.

Moreover, the academicians said, Republicans in Congress are damaging the presidency by even opening an inquiry.

"Dangerous precedents are being set," said Georgetown University law professor Susan Low Bloch, who will testify for the Democrats at a hearing on defining impeachment Monday before the House subcommittee on the Constitution.

Republicans and other legal scholars strongly disagree, saying it is Congress' duty to probe whether impeachment is an appropriate punishment for Clinton's behavior. Fitness for office, according to one professor set to testify at the hearing, is the standard for Congress' decision.

"Impeachment responds to a particular problem of governance -- in this case how to end the tenure of an officer whose conduct has seriously undermined his fitness for continued service. ..." said John O. McGuiness, a law professor at Yeshiva University slated to testify on Monday.

Nineteen scholars are listed as witnesses to debate the what the founding fathers meant when they wrote that "high crimes and misdemeanors" would be grounds for impeachment.

Democrats requested the hearing, saying the Republican-controlled committee should decide what constitutes an impeachable offense before investigating Clinton's conduct in the Lewinsky matter or other charges probed by Starr.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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