Former U.S. Representatives, Baylor Faculty to Contextualize Impeachment Proceedings
WACO, Texas (Feb. 5, 2020) – Former members of the U.S. Congress – Rep. Alan Steelman (R-TX 5th District, 1973-1976) and Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX 11th and 17th Districts, 1991-2010) – will be joined by Baylor Law Professor Rory Ryan and Baylor History Professor Stephen Sloan, Ph.D., for a panel discussion and Q&A, “Investigating Impeachment: Context, Congress, and the Constitution,” at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, on the fifth floor of the Cashion Academic Center on the campus of Baylor University.
The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.
“Our Founding Fathers gave the American people the right to elect their presidents and Congress the right to impeach and remove presidents from office,” Edwards said. “History shows that presidential impeachments are always divisive, but our democracy is better served if citizens understand its constitutional roots and the first-hand lessons from past impeachment processes.”
Steelman was a freshman Congressman in 1973, when President Richard Nixon was embroiled in the Watergate scandal and ultimately resigned prior to being impeached. Edwards was a leading House Democrat in 1998, when President Bill Clinton became only the second U.S. president to be impeached. These former members of Congress will reflect on their experiences with impeachment proceedings as context for understanding the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Ryan is an expert in the areas of federal jurisdiction, appeals and complex litigation. He has consulted on cases that have gone before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Texas Supreme Court, state and federal appellate courts and trial courts. Sloan will moderate the panel discussion. He serves as a professor of American history and director of the Institute for Oral History at Baylor.
“The reality of impeachment is messy, uncertain and nuanced. And that’s by design,” Ryan said. “I see this nuance lost in the daily echo chambers, where questions are often answered in glib, 180-character jabs. Thankfully, in 1787, the Framers wrote a Constitution to endure for centuries, not just a news cycle. One of the monumental (and revolutionary) tasks was balancing how one political branch, the Legislature, would provide a check and balance on the other political branch, the President. To keep the President strong, but not too strong, impeachment would have to achieve that balance. It is vital that we understand what the Constitution says about impeachment and why it doesn’t, and can’t, say more.”
Steelman, at age 29, was the youngest person in Congress when he was elected. After losing to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen in the race for a Senate seat in 1976, Steelman left politics and worked with Alexander Proudfoot, a global operations consulting firm, for more than 35 years, serving as president and COO, president of Proudfoot Asia-Pacific and chairman of the board of advisors. In addition, he has been a chairman of the Dallas Council on World Affairs and a board member of Sterling Software (NYSE), Aristocrat Technologies (ASX) and the Texas Growth Fund. Steelman is a best-selling author and sought-after keynote speaker.
Edwards served in Congress until 2010 and now heads a strategic consulting firm, Edwards, Davis Stover & Associates LLC in Virginia. Edwards assists companies, associations and nonprofits who seek assistance with outreach to Federal Agencies and the U.S. Congress. Edwards also serves as The W. R. Poage Distinguished Chair of Public Service at Baylor University.
“Impeachment isn’t for the faint of heart,” Steelman said. “It is a surreal and raw experience for the people of the country and the congressmen and senators who have to vote on it. I’m hopeful those who attend the panel discussion will come away with a better understanding of the historical gravity of this process and be better prepared and informed and able to make their own personal decisions about the current process that is underway.”
The panel discussion is sponsored by the W. R. Poage Legislative Library, the Institute for Oral History and Baylor Law.
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