By Hope Katz Gibbs
Truly Amazing Women
Last month marked the 36th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon (on Friday, August 9, 1974). Impeaching the president was a decision made by numerous legislators — but it was Congressman Peter Rodino, then the Chairman of the House Committee, who in July 1974 voted to impeach.
“Peter told me that the last thing he wanted to do was to impeach the president and hold him responsible for misdeeds that would have caused him to be removed from office,” says his wife Joy Rodino. “Peter venerated the office of the president and was determined to conduct the inquiry thoroughly, fairly, and impartially. Ultimately, the weight of the evidence and the bipartisan spirit that Congressman Rodino fostered led to the Judiciary Committee’s vote to impeach Nixon.”
Joy says that Peter was an inspiration to millions, and after his death at age 95, in May 2005, she decided to write a book that was “my way of saying thank you to him and paying tribute to his legacy. It is also my sincere hope that readers come away with a deeper appreciation and respect for the rights and liberties that we are privileged to enjoy.”
About Joy’s book
Fifty-Two Words My Husband Taught Me: Love, Inspiration and the Constitution offers insights into the question, “Why is the Preamble to the Constitution relevant today?” by sharing the life history and lessons learned by the 40-year legislator and defender of the Constitution.
“Peter believed the Preamble is our country’s soul, not only projecting a vision of who we are as a people but also expressing the limitless possibilities of all we can be,” Joy explains. “In these troubled times, when nothing is certain, people are searching for meaning in their lives. These 52 words of the Preamble remind us of the importance of upholding our highest ideals and that there is security in the values and principles inherent in the foundation of our nation.”
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Eloquent and easy to read, the book recounts the inspiring story of her husband, the son of immigrants who grew up in a New Jersey tenement to rise to the post of chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He then went on to guide the United States through its gravest constitutional crisis: the 1974 Nixon impeachment inquiry, which affirmed the sanctity of the rule of law.
About Peter Rodino
During his 40 years in Congress, Peter played instrumental roles in the enactment of many historic pieces of legislation in the fields of civil rights, crime-control, anti-trust law, and immigration reform. He held many leadership positions, serving as chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and International Law, Subcommittee on Monopolies and Commercial Law, and, from 1972 to 1989, as chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary. In 1973 and ’74, Peter presided over the first presidential impeachment inquiry in over 100 years.
In addition, Peter served as NATO Parliamentarian and was elected chairman of the Intergovernmental Committee on European Migration. He was also appointed to numerous presidential commissions on crime, immigration, and anti-trust law.
Peter’s name was placed in nomination for the democratic vice presidency in 1972, and President Carter seriously considered him as a vice-presidential candidate in 1976, which consideration he declined. In recognition of his distinguished career, Peter was honored with many national and international awards, including being named a Knight of the Order of the Crown of Italy and Knight of Malta, and receiving Italy’s highest decoration, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy. He also received numerous honorary degrees.
Joy and Peter Rodino: A love story
After graduating from Smith College in 1963, Joy Rodino served for six years as the executive assistant in Peter Rodino’s Washington, D.C., office. She later attended Northeastern University School of Law and pursued a career as a public interest attorney, investigating consumer protection violations for the Federal Trade Commission, prosecuting child abuse and neglect cases as an assistant county attorney in upstate New York, serving as a law guardian for abused and neglected children in New Jersey, and representing a New Jersey county welfare agency in child support hearings.
In 1987, a former colleague asked her to speak to Peter about a legislative issue, and their destinies converged. They were married in 1989, just as Peter was retiring from 40 years of service in Congress and beginning his new career as a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law.
In addition to her legal career, Joy is a Reiki Master, Certified Cymatherapy Practitioner, and presents Stress Management/Optimal Performance trainings.
From the book
We married in 1989, just as Peter retired from Congress and began his new career as a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law. That was when I first heard Peter express his admiration for what five of our Founding Fathers were able to accomplish over the course of six short days: drafting the fifty-two words that would become the Preamble to the Constitution. To him, the Constitution was the heart of our nation, the mechanism that gave life to the system under which we live, a government of checks and balances, of rights and responsibilities. The Preamble was our country’s soul, not only projecting a vision of who we are as a people but also expressing the limitless possibilities of all that we can be.
For more information, visit www.peterrodino.com.