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When Chief Justice William Rehnquist takes an oath to ``do impartial justice'' as he presides over the Senate impeachment trial of President Clinton, he will have an immediate conflict of interest--since this impeachment is the culmination of a process that Rehnquist himself set into motion over six years ago. It was Rehnquist who personally and irregularly appointed the judge who in turn made the highly-irregular appointment of Kenneth Starr in 1994 as the Whitewater independent counsel.
The process by which Starr came to be appointed demonstrates further how the coup d'etat now being run against President Clinton and the United States Constitution has its treasonous roots deep in the old Confederacy.
The special three-judge panel which appoints independent counsels under the so-called ``Ethics in Government Act'' is directly appointed by the Chief Justice. The panel is supposed to be composed of senior, often retired Federal judges, so observers were quite surprised when, in 1992, Rehnquist picked a relatively-inexperienced federal appeals court judge from North Carolina to head the panel. David Sentelle had only been appointed a Federal district judge in North Carolina seven years earlier, in 1985. In February 1987, Sentelle was nominated to sit on the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia circuit--a nomination which gave rise to a violent controversy over Sentelle's membership in a segregated Masonic lodge.
In fact, the 1987 confirmation hearings for Sentelle were the only instance in modern times that the question of a Federal judge's membership in a Masonic organization became an issue. At his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sentelle admitted under questioning by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that he belonged to Masonic lodges of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, in North Carolina, that had no blacks or women as members. Leahy pointed out that white Masonry does not accept black members, nor does it recognize black Masonry.
The Sentelle nomination did not get to the Senate floor for seven months because of holds placed on it by other Senators.
Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, Sentelle's patron and sponsor, is himself a 33rd degree Mason, and he declared that he was ``aghast'' that a question of Sentelle's membership in a Masonic lodge had even become a matter of discussion, let alone an issue. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), then the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that he was ``astounded'' that the question was raised, and he acknowledged that he also was a 33rd degree Mason.
(The story of how Rehnquist's own nomination to be Chief Justice was rammed through the Southern-dominated Senate Judiciary Committee a year earlier, is told in the accompanying article.)
Despite this, Sentelle was confirmed as an appeals court judge, and this enabled Rehnquist, five years later, to hand-pick Sentelle to head the ``Special Division for Apppointing Independent Counsels.''
If Rehnquist's appointment of Sentelle was a surprise, it was nothing like that shock that greeted the sudden appointment of Kenneth Starr by Sentelle and the Special Division in August 1994. Attorney General Janet Reno had applied to the Special Division to reappoint Robert Fiske, the Whitewater independent counsel whom she had appointed under Justice Department regulations in January 1994, during the period when the Ethics in Government Act had expired. But instead of reappointing Fiske, who was a senior and respected former Federal prosecutor, Sentelle fired Fiske and appointed the Texan Starr--a crony of Sentelle's and Rehnquist's who had never been a prosecutor and who had never tried a criminal case in his life.
That Sentelle took this action after a luncheon meeting with North Carolina's rabidly anti-Clinton Senators, Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth, made the appointment even more controversial--on top of the fact that Starr was involved with Paula Jones's lawyers and was preparing to write a legal brief on their behalf.
Rehnquist himself was a guiding light in the founding of the so-called Federalist Society in 1982, funded by Richard Mellon Scaife, the ``Daddy Warbucks'' of the ``Get Clinton'' crusade. Sentelle and Starr are both leading activists in the Federalist Society; in fact, Starr was a featured speaker at a Federalist Society event at the time of his appointment.
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