Impeachment and Japanese Americans


Because our history and psyches have been forever scorched by the wartime incarceration of our community by our own government, Japanese Americans know how fragile our Constitutional rights are. We know that the Constitution is only as meaningful as the people’s insistence that our leaders, government and officials fully comply with it.

Violations of the Constitution
Many of us view with great alarm Donald Trump’s utter disregard for the Constitution. His Muslim travel ban is in flagrant violation of the First Amendment right of religious freedom. His racist attacks on Mexicans as “rapists” and “criminals” violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

His labeling of the news media as “the enemy of the people” and his threats to revoke the licenses of media outlets that criticize him, undermine the right to free speech and a free press, which many consider essential to a healthy democracy.

From day one of his presidency and each day since then, he has violated the Constitution’s anti-corruption provisions known as the “emoluments clauses.” These clauses prohibit U.S. officials from accepting money or gifts from foreign governments, or from the U.S. or any state government, other than his official pay.

Impeachment Process
The Constitution provides that the President can be removed from office by impeachment for high crimes or misdemeanors.

If a majority of the House of Representatives agrees to impeachment, the Senate conducts a trial to determine if the President should be removed for high crimes or misdemeanors. Two-thirds of the Senate must approve before a President can be removed from office through impeachment.

Impeaching Trump
Several resolutions have been introduced in the House of Representatives calling for the impeachment of President Trump, but only two have been voted on so far.

On Dec. 6, 2017, Rep. Al Green (D-TX) introduced an impeachment resolution on the House floor.

House Republicans and two-thirds of Democrats killed Green’s resolution by approving a motion to table the impeachment resolution.

Only 58 Representatives, all of them Democrats, voted for impeachment by opposing the motion to table.

On Jan. 19, 2018, Rep. Green introduced another impeachment resolution in the House. This time, 66 Representatives, all Democrats, voted for impeachment by opposing the Republican motion to table.

How Did Your Rep. Vote?
With all Republicans and about two-thirds of Democrats in the House of Representatives voting against Green’s two resolutions, chances are your Representative voted against impeachment. This may be true even if your Representative is an outspoken critic of President Trump.

Those voting against impeachment of Trump included Representatives who frequently criticize Trump, such as Nancy Pelosi, Jackie Speier, Eric Swalwell, Ro Khanna, Adam Schiff and Tulsi Gabbard.

To see how your Representative voted, see: (Jan. 19 vote), and (Dec. 6 vote).

To confirm who represents you in the House of Representatives, see If your Representative voted against impeachment and you disagree, you should let your Representative know how you feel. Sample letters are available from

If your Representative voted in favor of impeachment and you agree, you should express your thanks, and you may also want to urge your Representative to co-sponsor H.Res. 621, Rep. Cohen’s impeachment resolution. Sample letters are available from

House Resolution 621
On Nov. 15, 2017, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced House Resolution 621 (H.Res. 621), which calls for impeaching President Trump on grounds of: obstruction of justice, violation of the emoluments clauses of the Constitution, abuse of power by actions undermining the rule of law, and actions undermining the freedom of the press.

Rep. Cohen is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which may need to approve H.Res. 621 prior to a vote on the House floor.

To date, H.Res. 621 has 12 co-sponsors, including civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Al Green (D-TX), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).

Rep. Cohen is trying to gather more co-sponsors for H.Res. 621, whereas Rep. Green’s impeachment resolutions are effectively dead.

The House has not voted on H.Res. 621 and probably will not until it gathers many more co-sponsors.

Feb. 19, the date on which Executive Order 9066 was signed in 1942, is a reminder of the necessity for each of us to stand up and fight for the Constitution and our democracy when it is under attack. Now is the time to act.

John Ota of Alameda, Calif., a retired attorney, was active in the Japanese American Redress Movement. The views expressed in the preceding commentary are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

2 responses to “Impeachment and Japanese Americans”

  1. Katherine Cameron Avatar
    Katherine Cameron

    I deeply appreciate the thoughtful comments by John Ota. I have often found myself comparing the current Trump administration to the early stages of the Third Reich, when “good Germans” failed to speak out – but John reminds us that this happened in the United States too, with the internment of the Japanese – the failure of Americans to speak up and protect Constitutional rights of our fellow citizens. This time, let’s all learn from history. Speak out for impeachment of Donald Trump.

    Some say it is “not time yet” – that such an effort will not succeed until Democrats take over Congress. But remember: urging impeachment is not just an action with an end result – it is an expression of our alarm. You will sleep better at night if you write or call your member of Congress and demand that an impeachment investigation. You may not succeed immediately , but your view on the matter will forever be “on the record”. Don’t wait until it is too late, as we did with the internment camps.

  2. Aki Maehara Avatar
    Aki Maehara

    Thank you for your never ending commitment to justice John! Your efforts and example inspire.
    This moment of crisis does indeed present an existentialist threat to US Constitutional democracy by laws/amendments added to the original Bill of Rights, that have been historical attempts to legally encode corrections to the historical denial of and open attacks against human rights in the US that resulted from, were constructed by, and over a long period of isolated racial development established Whiteness as the legally privileged White Racist Cultural identity of the US.

    Colonial Settler White-European Supremacist Plantation Slave Masters played instrumental roles insuring, through compromise, that white supremacy would be racial-political-socio-economic foundation of US nationalism to protect their right to accumulate vast, unheard of amounts of wealth and power through Indian genocide to steal land and resources, and enslavement of African labor to steal wages.

    Those wedded to the beliefs of US White Supremacy have never accepted nor were they ever changed historically by legal/moral, and/or educational efforts meant to correct the dehumanizations of US White Race Supremacist culture. White Supremacists revealed they would forcibly remove Native Americans in outright violation of US SC rulings to protect and benefit White Supremacy in the US. White Supremacists decide a CIVIL WAR with the US and its Constitution to protect its right to continue profitting from genocide and slavery was in its best interest.
    Then after losing that war, US White Supremacists took their RACE WAR against the Constitutional Civil War Amendments (13th, 14th, 15th) underground organizing white racist terrorist organizations and campaigns of legal and extra-legal racial oppression known historically as Jim Crow “Separate, But (un)Equal” white Racist Exclusions/Genocides from White Race riots, lynchings, false arrests, murders, etc
    Enforced well into the 1960s
    Since the 1960s US white supremacists have using colorblind racisms, campaigned to cut taxes to tax bankrupt tax supported Institutional like public schools that could undermine white supremacy. White Supremacist demand higher military and law enforcement budgets to shift money away from social service and safety net programs and entitlements. At the same time destroying private sector multiracial labor unions. White Supremacists support Charter Schools to preserve a restricted service population not open to everyone but requires more of the limited school budget thus magnifying the downward spiral tax bankrupted public schools while promoting a white gun ownership culture itself a product of historical white Supremacy.

    I suggest it’s time to Man the tables again to get impeachment petitions signed. And using these contacts to raise people’s consciousness again. Every step we take gets us one step closer.

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