Wikipedia Fun

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I saw some silly "scandal scorecard" on some silly website that was trying to keep a scorecard of all the political scandals by sitting members of Congress.

It didn't list the most notable example: Alcee Hastings, the only sitting member of Congress -- as far as I can tell, ever -- to have been previously impeached and removed from office, for conspiracy and perjury. And one of only six judges ever to have been so.

I looked for information about it, but it was hard to come by. I had some time ago looked at his Wikipedia entry, and it made only a passing reference to it. I went back this time and someone had added the phrase, "but [the impeachment was] subsequently cleared by a court review."

This is news to me. Not knowing much about it, I did some research. What court could overturn an impeachment? On what basis? What's going on?

Sure enough, I found a federal court order remanding the Senate's removal of him back to them for reconsideration. It seems that while Judge Stanley Sporkin said he could not challenge their results, he could challenge their methods: a Senate committee removed him from office, rather than the full Senate.

This appears to be why the phrase was added. But it's not the whole story. What happened next, after it was remanded? Did the Senate ever reconsider, or just drop it? The questions mounted.

Well, Sporkin actually stayed his own order, because a similar case regarding Judge Walter Nixon, also impeached and removed, was coming before the Supreme Court already. The Supreme Court eventually ruled the judiciary had no review of any kind over Senate procedures. (I don't know if the Court would have ruled differently had the Constitution said explicitly that the full Senate must remove from office; as it does not, the point is moot: the Senate makes its own rules where they are not explicitly made for them by the Constitution.)

So the order to remand was vacated and remanded by the DC District Court back to Sporkin, who then dismissed Hastings' appeal. Therefore, contrary to what Wikipedia said, no, Hastings' impeachment and removal were not ever cleared.

What's my point? Twofold: first, that this is an interesting story, and second, that you can't believe it just because Wikipedia says it (which hopefully, most of you already knew). And, by corollary, that just because some columnist is keeping a scorecard, doesn't mean it is remotely meaningful or accurate.

Now Playing: Lost Dogs - The Mark of Cain

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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