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January 22, 1999 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-01-22

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 22, 1999

FRIDAYFOCUS

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HISTORY-MAKING EVENTS DRAW AMERICANS TO WASHINGTON

BY MIKE SPAHN DAILY STAFF REPORTER

A SHINGTON - Anything that
occurs only once in 132 years
attracts a certain amount of
attention because of its rarity. But when
that event is the trial of a sitting president
of the United States, interest reaches a
fevered pitch.
The chamber of the Senate is usually a
regal, historic venue of debate, statesman-
ship and legislative action. But in recent
weeks, it has been transformed into a court-
room, with all 100 senators sitting silently
in the unusual role of jurors. In addition to
the legal participants, the Senate galleries
have been filled to capacity with interested
citizens and non-citizens alike.
Tourists, students and other intrigued
viewers have descended upon the Capitol
in an effort to catch a glimpse of the trial
that could remove a president from office
for the first time in the nation's history. But
access to the trial is limited, causing many
to plan weeks in advance for entry.
Both Michigan members, Sen. Carl
Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. Spencer
Abraham (R-Mich.), have reported an
unrelenting desire for the four gallery seats
each of their offices' have reserved for the
trial. Both offices' have split up the seats in
one and one half-hour periods, attempting
to accommodate the overwhelming public
demand for access.
Those shifts, which usually equal three
per day, have been booked solid by
requests from Michigan and the D.C. area.
Even members of the House of
Representatives must get tickets if the lim-
ited seating for dignitaries is full.
Brian Mee, a Michigan resident, brought
his daughters Shelane and Stephanie from
Lansing to Washington to view the trial
and take in the history of the event. He said
the girls were excited and interested to get
into the Senate chamber.
"That's one of the good things about this
whole thing, it gets them to ask questions
and interested in the political process,"
Mee said.
During the proceedings, Mee's daugh-
ters appeared initially fascinated, but later
they seemed a little tired of the legal jargon
that White House lawyer Greg Craig used
in his presentation Wednesday.
Patricia Vucich, who is originally from

Michigan but now lives in the Washington,
D.C. area, said she wanted to see the pre-
sentation for herself rather than rely only
on C-SPAN's coverage of the trial.
"I would sit in there all day if I could,"
Vucich said after she left the proceedings
in the Senate chamber. "But I did see at
least one senator dozing off."
Nucich said she has always supported
Clinton, and she wanted to hear his side of
the case after House managers had pre-
sented what she said was a pretty com-
pelling case.
'Jim Carlisle of Livonia, who was in
Washington for a meeting, also used ohe of
Levin's trial tickets. Carlisle said he called
two weeks in advance to secure passes for
Wednesday's trial proceedings, and even
then, he had to come directly from the air-
port to make his allotted time.
"I came for the history," Carlisle said.
"But I don't know what to expect."
In addition to Senate passes to the pro-
ceedings, citizens can obtain regular
gallery passes for the trial - if they're
willing to wait. Hours before the trial con-
vened yesterday, a line of people hoping to
sit in on a brief 15-30 minutes of the trial
stretched across the Capitol steps.
The Senate is in a different state during
these proceedings. These days, senators
must sit silently during the proceedings,
with the threat of imprisonment from dis-
cussion hanging over their heads. Most
barely even move.
While Chief Justice William Rehnquist
presides over the trial, even he has to stand
on occasion to stretch his back.
And directly in the middle of the scene,
sandwiched between the majority and
minority leaders and not 10 feet from the
podium, stands the court reporter, another
position that shifts every 10 minutes.
Onlookers peer over a brass railing,
picking out their senators and sometimes
whispering to one another about the pro-
ceedings
Stephen Hardwich, a 14-year-old who
was excused from his Baltimore middle
school classes for the day, was first in line
yesterday. He and two friends made it to
the Capitol before 9 a.m., four hours before
the Senate was set to convene. Hardwich
said the long wait was worth it.

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"This is history in the making," he said.
"I just want to be able to say that I've been
there."
Cori Rude, a junior at the University of
Wisconsin-Eau Claire, came to the Capitol
with three friends who are participating in
an internship program in Washington.
Rude said the historical appeal also attract-
ed her to the trial and made the two hours
she waited in line - partially in a light
drizzle - well worth it.
University of Vermont junior Doug
Gordon said he wanted to come to the
Capitol and see the trial for himself.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity,"
Gordon said, which one of his friends fol-
lowed by saying, "Well, we hope it is."
Another student, Boston University
junior Megan Riggs, said before she
entered the trial that she wasn't sure what it
would be like.
"It's probably going to be pretty boring
and solemn," Riggs said. "But, it's worth it."
After leaving the trial, Riggs was all
smiles.
"It was definitely worth it," she said, a
grin spreading across her face. "We'll def-
initely come back."

Top: The dome of the U.S. Capitol looms over Washington at night. During the day,
senators listen to arguments from White House attorneys and House managers.
Middle: Lights illuminate the Lincoln Memorial on The National Wall. Above: More
than 5,000 steelworkers protest the import of foreign steel Wednesday on Capitol
Hill In Washington.

Johnson impeachment sets only precedent in U.S. history

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By Kelly O'Connor
Daily Staff Reporter
As the world holds its breath anticipating the
events of President Clinton's trial, Senate mem-
bers scramble to lay plans for the trial proce-
dures that may ultimately determine his fate.
Deciding on the exact course of action is not
an easy task, nor one that is spelled out in the
Constitution, said political science and Public
Policy Prof. Richard Hall.
"The Constitution is the law, but it is normal-
ly interpreted by case law," Hall said. "We have
no case law on this."
Only one other president in the nation's histo-
ry has faced an impeachment trial in the Senate.
Andrew Johnson, the 17th president, was
impeached in 1868 by the House of

committed.
"One vote saved Andrew Johnson. I hope
more than one vote saves William Clinton,"
Achenbaum said.
The years immediately following the Civil
War showed a nation broken apart by differing
ideas of how the country should be governed. As
a southern Democrat, Johnson was in favor of
the power of individual states over the power of
the federal government. Also, he was unsure
about how the government should deal with the
large population of recently
freed slaves.
Taking advantage of the
fact that Congress was not
in session during 1865,
Johnson began work on

to seat any senator or representative who sup-
ported the Confederacy.
A measure was also passed that provided
rights of citizenship to the now-freed slaves.
Johnson-vetoed the bill, but Congress gathered
enough votes to override the veto, the first time
in history this right was exercised.
Facing a Congress composed of radical
Republicans and die-hard Unionists, Johnson
didn't have much of a chance. When Johnson
removed the secretary of war and attempted to
take control of the military himself, Congress
took action. Impeachment articles were passed,
and the case went to trial.
Because Johnson was acquitted, he com-
pleted the final two years of his term. But his
days of exercising his veto power based on

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