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Starr's Duke Professor Says Impeachment Inquiry Will Last For Awhile

Posted October 4, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Just how long is the impeachment inquiry process going to take? That is a good question after Monday's slow start. A leading law expert at Duke bets you will see elected representatives working on this for a long time to come.

Dukelaw professor William Van Alstyne has special insight into the proceedings in Washington. He is a leading constitutional scholar, who taught Kenneth Starr when he was at Duke in the early 1970s.

"Ken Starr was one of about 120 students in my large section in constitutional law," Van Alstyne said.

He believes the hearings based on theStarr reportcould drag on, because unlike Watergate, theHouse Judiciary Committeelacks a moderate voice.

"This is not an excellent committee, in my opinion, as the one when Mr. Nixon's career was at stake," Van Alstyne explained. "There were extremes, but they were small extremes. This committee is more like a two-humped camel."

He is also betting this will last a long time, because the subcommittee will vote for an impeachment inquiry into a variety of President Clinton's alleged misdeeds like Whitewater, Travel-gate, and File-gate.

"Those matters may come forward in the course of the judiciary committee's hearing," said Van Alstyne. "In that respect, the inquiry will be a broader one than merely involving his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky."

Van Alstyne does not expect the subcommittee to take up former President Ford's suggestion that Clinton appear before the House for a "harshly worded rebuke."

"But I think it's very unlikely to happen," Van Alstyne said. "I don't believe it's in Mr. Clinton's temperament to go to the well of Congress and stand mute to hear people recite the litany of alleged infamous wrongdoing."

Van Alstyne does criticize the lack of a moderate voice on the panel consideringthisimpeachment inquiry. Still, he believes this proceeding is not any more partisan than the ones that took place during Watergate.