Pres. Clinton suspended from high court practice

By Ken Baumbach
October 18, 2001

The Supreme Court suspended former President William Clinton’s rights to practice law before it and gave the former president 40 days to argue why he should not be permentley disbarred from the high court.

Although Clinton was unlikely to ever practice law again, especially before the Supreme Court, the high court’s sanction came just as he was beginning to come back from the scandal that concerned the last minute pardons he issued right before he left office last January.

The Supreme Courts ruling gave another claim to the critics who argue that the former presidents flaws tarnished his presidency and his place in history.

“It’s an official reinforcement of the view that he was lacking in character,” director of the Center for Presidential Studies at Texas A&M University, George Edwards commented.

The ruling, which was issued in a short statement on the first day of the high court’s fall term, comes from Clinton’s admission that he knowingly gave elusive and misleading answers to try and cover up the fact that he had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Those answers came in Clinton’s 1998 deposition in the lawsuit filed by Arkansas state worker Paula Jones alleging that Clinton sexually harassed her when he was governor of the state. Clinton made his admission just before leaving the presidential office as a part of an agreement with the independent counsel investigating him. Clinton agreed to pay a sum of $25,000 in fines and have his license to practice law in Arkansas suspended for up to five years.

“The Supreme Court has no political constituency, only constituency to the law,” Dr. James Hedtke, political science and history chair said. “The court must follow the law and hopefully they acted in a non-political fashion.”

The court did not mention a vote among the nine justices. Currently there are two judges on the court who were appointed by Clinton.

This is the same court who opened the crucial door to Clinton’s lengthy list of legal troubles when it ruled unanimously in May of 1997 that Paula Jones may purse her lawsuit, which accused the former president of sexually harassing her. The court rejected a plea by Clinton that the lawsuit be delayed until after his term was up and he left the presidency. However a lower courts ruling dismissed Jones’ claim. Clinton and Jones did reach, after this courts ruling, in an out-of-court settlement to stop her appeal of the dismissal.

But Clinton’s lies under oath to conceal his sexual relationship with Lewinsky led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives in December of 1998. However the Senate declined to convict Clinton, permitting him to finish out his presidency.

Hedtke said, “Many people feel that William Clinton is going to judged harshly throughout history, and they feel that this is punishment enough. However the crimes he committed, which include obstruction of justice and pruderies are very serious crimes. The punishment he receives should fit the crime he committed.”

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Ken Baumbach

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