Impeaching Mayorkas Was a Violation of the Constitution

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Impeaching Mayorkas Was a Violation of the Constitution

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., April 28, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)


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February 13, 2024 8:38 PM95 CommentsListen

Convicting a Biden-cabinet official might be a powerful way to satisfy the base, but the long-term consequences of undermining the Constitution are unacceptable.

The House of Representatives today voted to impeach Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. I voted no for the very simple reason that Secretary Mayorkas’s poor job performance is not an impeachable offense.



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To be clear, our open southern border is a national-security vulnerability and an invitation for cartels to bring illicit drugs into our country. Women and children are being trafficked in and through our country because of the chaos that President Biden has unleashed at the border. The border mess was preventable, and President Biden and his key personnel, including Secretary Mayorkas, deserve full blame for the open border.

But the standard for impeachment is not a failed policy — no matter how reckless or unpopular it may be. The standard for impeachment, which the Constitution lays out in clear language, is “treason, bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Maladministration, incompetence, and a blatant disregard for the American people’s wishes are notably absent from the list.


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The speaker of the House, apparently aware that this impeachment effort fell short of the Constitution’s standard, said recently on a Sunday talk show, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” Our Founders crafted the Constitution in anticipation of desperate times and deep partisan divides. One might even say that desperate times, especially, call for fidelity to the Constitution.

Several House Republicans also argued that impeachment was necessary because there were no other possible remedies when the administration is implementing open-border policies. In reality, however, the Constitution provides several tools for oversight and for reining in a reckless agency.


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The authority to direct federal funding, for example, rests solely with Congress. If the House GOP leadership had been serious about using constitutional authorities delegated to Congress, it could have started by reducing the secretary’s annual salary to one dollar, or by eliminating funding to the Department of Homeland Security. This type of oversight is precisely what the Founders had in mind when they devised a system of checks and balances, and intentionally vested Congress with the power of the purse.

But rather than employing their constitutional authority, House Republicans seized on the opportunity for a media sensation. Impeaching an unpopular cabinet official of a president with dangerously low approval ratings was a cynical ploy for social-media clicks and TV appearances. And it worked.

Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of Biden’s performance on border security: Sixty-eight percent disapprove of his immigration policies. This policy, in particular, imperils President Biden’s chances for reelection. Here again, the House GOP missed another check on an abusive executive: the American people’s voice in the upcoming elections. 

President Barack Obama famously reminded us that elections have consequences. But a corollary truism in politics also holds: Election outcomes often are a consequence. President Biden’s reckless mishandling of the border may very well cost him his bid to remain in the White House. Ousting a president from the White House for his failure to secure the border is another key feature our Founders built into our constitutional design.


Baseless impeachments that fall far short of the Constitution’s requirements undermine the rule of law, which is the very accusation Republicans have correctly leveled at the president and Secretary Mayorkas. In constitutional law, there is no allowance for the kind of retribution on display with the GOP’s protests, which amounts to: “But the Democrats impeached Trump first!”

The impeachment effort now heads to the Senate for consideration, and, possibly, a trial. Senate Republicans will be under enormous pressure from their colleagues in the House and from Republican voters to use impeachment to settle the score from President Trump’s two impeachments. Convicting a Biden-cabinet official might be a powerful way to satisfy the base, but the long-term consequences of undermining the Constitution are unacceptable.

Desperate times — even when our southern border is in chaos — call for strict adherence to the Constitution. If Senate Republicans reject this unconstitutional standard for impeachment, they would show the American people what being the party committed to the rule of law really looks like.

NEXT ARTICLECountries with Low Birth Rates Are Allowed to Have Foreign PoliciesShare95 CommentsKEN BUCK currently represents Colorado’s fourth congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Judiciary Committee.@repkenbuck


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