The municipal council in the liberal California city of Berkeley plans to give voters a say on a measure calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the mayor said Wednesday.
A number of local governments across the United States have pressed resolutions urging impeachment, but the Berkeley city council's goal is to be the first to put the issue directly to voters, Mayor Tom Bates said in an interview.
"This is basically giving the people a chance to talk, to join the debate," Bates said. "The issues go way beyond impeaching the president. They go to safeguarding the Constitution. This administration has run roughshod over the Constitution."
Cheered on by globe-trotting Iraq war protester Cindy Sheehan, who has moved to Berkeley, the council voted unanimously Tuesday night to have the city attorney review the measure to place it on the November ballot.
Civil rights concerns
The measure was urged by the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, which advises the city on civil rights issues. The commission accuses the Republican White House of intentionally misleading Congress to justify an unnecessary war in Iraq, pursuing unconstitutional surveillance programs and permitting torture of detainees suspected of links to terrorism.
Bush and Cheney "have acted in a manner contrary to their trust as President and Vice President of the United States and subversive of Constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the People of the United States of America," the commission said in a statement.
Politics of the left
Berkeley has seen its politics march steadily leftward since the 1960s, when the Free Speech Movement and Vietnam War protests at the University of California, Berkeley, drew progressives to the city.
Bush received 4,010 votes in Berkeley in the 2004 presidential election, compared with 54,409 votes for Democratic challenger John Kerry.
Berkeley resident Albert Sukoff said he was not surprised by the council's decision.
"I think they overextend themselves and get into things that aren't their business," said Sukoff. "Berkeley has always had a foreign policy, the national one notwithstanding."