Archive for Friday, November 20, 2009

Former independent counsel praises Constitution in speech

System for investigating U.S. officials ‘was not sound,’ he says in interview

Ken Starr, whose investigation as independent counsel led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, visited the Kansas University School of Law on Thursday. Starr said Americans should be thankful for the U.S. Constitution and the rights and liberties it provides.

Ken Starr, whose investigation as independent counsel led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, visited the Kansas University School of Law on Thursday. Starr said Americans should be thankful for the U.S. Constitution and the rights and liberties it provides.

November 20, 2009

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Ken Starr takes stage at KU

The independent counsel whose investigation led to the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton spoke at KU Thursday. Enlarge video

Ken Starr, whose investigation as independent counsel led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, visited the Kansas University School of Law on Thursday. Starr said Americans should be thankful for the U.S. Constitution and the rights and liberties it provides.

Ken Starr, whose investigation as independent counsel led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, visited the Kansas University School of Law on Thursday. Starr said Americans should be thankful for the U.S. Constitution and the rights and liberties it provides.

Speech highlights

Highlights from Ken Starr’s visit to Kansas University:

• Starr says as time passes, he gets less questions about the Clinton investigation that led to the president’s impeachment. “At the 10-year anniversary people asked questions, but since then, to coin a phrase, we’ve moved on.”

• On whether in the last eight years, the executive branch has taken on too much power: “As a personal opinion, no, but I think it’s always a question of dynamic tension, and there is always room for congressional oversight and congressional calling on the executive to account for its actions.”

• He spoke at length about the importance of the constitutional amendment process. “The founding generation knew there was this horrible evil of slavery with which the convention struggled with.”

• At the start of his speech, he held up a Kansas University basketball program and a copy of the Constitution. “Good luck to the Jayhawks. I say that having gone to the Duke Law School. Please don’t boo too loudly because it will be misinterpreted.”

If Ken Starr could change the U.S. Constitution, he would eliminate the requirement that the president must be a natural-born citizen.

“I think that was a very understandable provision at the founding, but it has long since outlived its usefulness,” Starr said Thursday during an interview at the Kansas University School of Law.

He cited examples of Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger and Canadian-born Jennifer Granholm rising to be governors of California and Michigan.

During a Thursday speech at Green Hall, the Pepperdine University law school dean urged dozens of Kansas University law students to think about the amendment process as their generation begins to take control of the country.

Starr, 63, is best known for serving as an independent counsel whose investigation led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Starr has also served as a federal appellate judge and solicitor general.

During his speech sponsored by the law school’s Federalist Society, he chose to talk about the Constitution in the wake of President Barack Obama’s recent trip to China when he spoke to the Chinese about individual freedom and an open society. Starr said that as China emerges as an economic power, it has “not yet found its way with respect to what our president called universal rights.”

“I think in light of what we’re seeing globally with an interest in constitutionalism, individual rights, individual liberties and so forth, it’s reason for us to be in a state of thoughtful celebration, but we should also be very, very thankful for what we have,” he said.

Starr praised the American founders for having a vision that included creating the amendment process in the original Constitution. The Constitution was last changed in 1992 when the 27th amendment on congressional pay was ratified.

While he did not mention the Clinton investigation during his speech, during an interview Starr acknowledged the independent counsel system “was not a sound structure.”

The House impeached Clinton in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice, but the Senate did not vote to remove him from office.

“We nonetheless believe in this country in the rule of law, that all persons are subject to the law and should be subject to the law,” he said.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

Hearing this, you'd never guess that the Republicans have led an all-out assault on the constitution for the last 30 years.

Jimo 5 years, 4 months ago

Conjoining the topic of 'too much executive power' (a/k/a, too little Congressional power) and the role of any 'special counsel' seems to point to one obvious Constitutional adjustment.

The legislative branch has shown itself institutionally, regardless of which party controls it, to be incapable of asserting its own constitutional powers to check the executive. What with the absence of a single voice, the division between partisan factions, the division between two halves, an alien studying how the Constitution works in practice versus its written form would assume that Congress had virtually no power except to draft legislation (which may or may not be approved or ignored in whole in part prior to executive approval or after it).

This could be in part remedied by giving Congress, or even either house, the power to appoint special counsel(s) itself to investigate and prosecute criminal activity. Clearly in practice this would involve a lot of stepping-on-toes and second guessing of the executive's Dept. of Justice but I suspect the very existence of such a separate power and its occasional exercise would lead to an even more independent and aggressive exercise of responsibility by the Dept. of Justice thereby mitigating any actual need for Congress to force the issue(s).

bankboy119 5 years, 4 months ago

Death,

I think the provision is perfectly fine the way it is and doesn't need to be removed, no matter who thinks otherwise.

Stop crying.

M. Lindeman 5 years, 4 months ago

deathpenaltyliberal (Anonymous) says…

“If Ken Starr could change the U.S. Constitution, he would eliminate the requirement that the president must be a natural-born citizen.”

Unbelievable. Where is the condemnation from our right wing posters? Where is the outrage?

rdragon writes: Well deathpenaltyliberal let me be the first. I disagree with Starr on this one, I don't understand his logic for that comment. I know he has a brillant mind for the law, but should rethink that statement.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

The current constitutional requirement to be president is effectively that you have been a US citizen for at least 35 years, since you have to be at least 35 years old. If the prohibition of naturalized citizens becoming president is ever done away with, the amendment should require at least 20 years of citizenship.

Sulla 5 years, 4 months ago

Both Dems and GoPers have been assaulting, ignoring, blowing their noses on the Constitution for decades which demonstrates that it has become a mere scrap of paper for a museum, thus there went the Republic as well. A New Constitution will get us a New Republic but the time for that has run out, I fear. Few people care.

darkagent 5 years, 4 months ago

edj- we really need a junta president, or better yet a pirate, or a commie pinko, or my personal fave...a scandinavian socialist, take your pick it would sure liven the place up.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 4 months ago

What the hell, Lawrence police officers are immune to constitutional restrictions. Chief Olin allows officers to violate Miranda rights when a person asks for a lawyer, "well we just don't have one right now." I have it in print on an official police report.

Chief Olin tolerates violations of the 14th amendment I have it on paper in an official police report.

The U.S. Constitution does not matter one whit to the Lawrence Police Department and it's Chief.

gphawk89 5 years, 4 months ago

“If Ken Starr could change the U.S. Constitution, he would eliminate the requirement that the president must be a natural-born citizen.”

It would appear that that particular requirement is no longer being enforced anyway.

BigPrune 5 years, 4 months ago

How to appease a room full of Marxist Oba-Mao loving nutcase liberals?

“If Ken Starr could change the U.S. Constitution, he would eliminate the requirement that the president must be a natural-born citizen.” - That's how!

Good job Ken. I remember when Clinton was president, the liberals wanted to have you lynched - that's what makes them so scary. You totally took them off guard, and good thing too, since Obama hasn't set up his well equipped citizen militia that would've prevented you from speaking in the first place!

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