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One High Crime And Two Misdemeanors

based on a report by Will Bunch. October 12, 2005

President Bush said Wednesday that Harriet Miers' religious beliefs figured into her nomination to the Supreme Court. "People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers," Bush told reporters at the White House. "Part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion." Bush committed at least one "high crime" and two "misdemeanors", by our casual tally.

Misdemeanor No. 1: In using religion as a key basis for offering Miers a job, the president would appear to have violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Title VII of the law "prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."

Misdemeanor No. 2: One could make the case that Bush's actions are also in violation of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which specifically covers federal employees. According to the same EEOC primer: "The CSRA prohibits any employee who has authority to take certain personnel actions from discriminating for or against employees or applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability."

High crime: As you might expect, the "high crime" here is more serious, and is also the area where it's hardest to argue that the president did not cross the line. We are referring to Article VI, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which states that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Do you honestly believe that Harriet Miers -- with all her other qualifications exactly the same -- would have been nominated to the Supreme Court if she had been Jewish, or an atheist, or Muslim? Of course not. George W. Bush has an easy choice now. He can withdraw Miers' nomination. Or he can be impeached.

You have been reading excerpts from "The President's day: One high crime and two misdemeanors" by Will Bunch. You can read the entire piece here: tinyurl.com/cbgcb. Thanks to Philadelphia Daily News and pnionline.com.

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