Congressional Research Service: Zelaya's Ouster Legal Under Law of Honduras

Clarice Feldman
Once again the facts trip up the Administration. The  well-regarded and non-partisan Congressional research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress examined Honduran law and concluded, contrary to our benighted Department of State and Chavez-loving President that Zelaya's removal from office was not a coup, but was perfectly legal under Honduran law.

David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner summarizes the report as follows:

  • The Honduran Congress appears to have acted properly in deposing President Manuel Zelaya. Unlike in the United States, the Honduran Congress has the last word when it comes to interpreting the Constitution. Although there is no provision in Honduras's Constitution for impeachment as such, the body does have powers to disapprove of the president's official acts, and to replace him in the event that he is incapable of performing his duties. Most importantly, the Congress also has the authority to interpret exactly what that means.
  • The Supreme Court was legally entitled to ask the military to arrest Zelaya. The high court, which is the constitutional venue for trials of the president and other high-ranking officials, also recognized the Congress's ouster of Zelaya when it referred his case back down to a lower court afterward, on the grounds that he was "no longer a high-ranking government official."
  • The military did not act properly in forcibly expatriating Zelaya. According to the CRS report and other news stories, Honduran authorities are investigating their decision, which the military justified at the time as a means of preventing bloodshed. In fact, Zelaya should have been given a trial, and if convicted of seeking reelection, he would have lost his citizenship. But he is still a citizen now, and the Constitution forbids the expatriation of Honduran citizens by their government.
  • The proper line of succession was followed after Zelaya's ouster. Because there was no Vice President in office when Zelaya was removed (he had resigned to run for president), Micheletti was the proper successor, as he had been president of the Congress.

Now, unless we choose to be a bully and force that government to disobey its own

constitution and reinstate him, we ought to immediately lift all sanctions imposed on Honduras and reissue visas to this country to its officials.

What an outrage? Perhaps the Department of State legal office needs a coup of its own?
Once again the facts trip up the Administration. The  well-regarded and non-partisan Congressional research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress examined Honduran law and concluded, contrary to our benighted Department of State and Chavez-loving President that Zelaya's removal from office was not a coup, but was perfectly legal under Honduran law.

David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner summarizes the report as follows:

  • The Honduran Congress appears to have acted properly in deposing President Manuel Zelaya. Unlike in the United States, the Honduran Congress has the last word when it comes to interpreting the Constitution. Although there is no provision in Honduras's Constitution for impeachment as such, the body does have powers to disapprove of the president's official acts, and to replace him in the event that he is incapable of performing his duties. Most importantly, the Congress also has the authority to interpret exactly what that means.
  • The Supreme Court was legally entitled to ask the military to arrest Zelaya. The high court, which is the constitutional venue for trials of the president and other high-ranking officials, also recognized the Congress's ouster of Zelaya when it referred his case back down to a lower court afterward, on the grounds that he was "no longer a high-ranking government official."
  • The military did not act properly in forcibly expatriating Zelaya. According to the CRS report and other news stories, Honduran authorities are investigating their decision, which the military justified at the time as a means of preventing bloodshed. In fact, Zelaya should have been given a trial, and if convicted of seeking reelection, he would have lost his citizenship. But he is still a citizen now, and the Constitution forbids the expatriation of Honduran citizens by their government.
  • The proper line of succession was followed after Zelaya's ouster. Because there was no Vice President in office when Zelaya was removed (he had resigned to run for president), Micheletti was the proper successor, as he had been president of the Congress.

Now, unless we choose to be a bully and force that government to disobey its own

constitution and reinstate him, we ought to immediately lift all sanctions imposed on Honduras and reissue visas to this country to its officials.

What an outrage? Perhaps the Department of State legal office needs a coup of its own?