Impeachment

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Impeachment refers to the Constitutionally ordained process by which, Congress may remove both elected and non elected federal officials. The act of Impeachment has occurred just 16 times since the creation of the constitution and is typically reserved for the most egregious acts.

Contents

Constitutional authority, process and outcome

In the House of Representatives

"The House of Representatives . . . shall have the sole power of impeachment"; therefore all matters of the impeachment process, must begin in the House.[1] All civil officers of the United States may be impeached and removed from office via this process to include The President and Vice President; notably, however, this does not include members of Congress.[2] (Senator William Blount was impeached by the House in 1799, but was found to be out of jurisdiction.[3])

The initiation of the impeachment process begins by way of resolution from a member of the House, to the House Committee on Rules. The Rules committee determines whether whether or not grounds for impeachment exist. If so determined, the resolution is then referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. The Judiciary committee is responsible for the complete investigation of the impeachable offense as well as the drafting of the Articles of Impeachment. Under the constitution, impeachable offenses included; "treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors." The extent as to what constitutes an impeachable misdemeanor is in dispute. [4][5].

After the Articles are drafted and approved by the committee, they are debated before then entire House. Each Article of Impeachment is a charge for removal of office. Each Article may be voted on separately or as an entire resolution. If any of the Articles receive a simple majority vote, then the individual in question has becomes "impeached". The next part of the impeachment process begins in the Senate.[6].

In the Senate

Once a person has been impeached by the House, the Articles of Impeachment are presented to the Senate. "The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments."[7] If the President is being impeached, then the Senate trial is presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. At the conclusion of the trial a two-thirds majority is required to convict a person so impeached.

Outcome

The Constitution clearly states that "Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States"[8]. It is also important to note that being removed and disqualified from office does not offend the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment. Therefore it is possible for the individual in question to face criminal indictments and trials for the same activities for which they were impeached and removed from office.[9]

History of impeachment

Impeached executive officials

Office Name Details
president of the United States Andrew Johnson acquitted May 26, 1868.
secretary of war William W. Belknap acquitted Aug. 1, 1876.
president of the United States William J. Clinton acquitted Feb. 12, 1999.

[10]

Impeached judicial officials

Office Name Details
Judge of the U.S. District Court for New Hampshire John Pickering, removed from office March 12, 1804.
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Samuel Chase, Acquitted March 1, 1805.
Judge of the U.S. District Court for Missouri James H. Peck Acquitted Jan. 31, 1831.
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the middle, eastern, and western districts of Tennessee; West H. Humphreys Removed from office June 26, 1862.
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the northern district of Florida Charles Swayne Acquitted Feb. 27, 1905.
Associate Judge, U.S. Commerce Court Robert W. Archbald Removed Jan. 13, 1913.
Judge of the U.S. District Court for eastern district of Illinois George W. English, Resigned Nov. 4, 1926; proceedings dismissed.
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the northern district of California; Harold Louderback Acquitted May 24, 1933.
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the southern district of Florida Halsted L. Ritter Removed from office April 17, 1936.
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the district of Nevada Harry E. Claiborne removed from office Oct. 9, 1986.
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the southern district of Florida Alcee L. Hastings Removed from office Oct. 20, 1988.
Judge of the U.S. District Court for Mississippi Walter L. Nixon Removed from office Nov. 3, 1989.

[11]

Impeached legislative officials

Office Name Details
senator from Tennessee William Blount Charges dismissed for want of jurisdiction, Jan. 14, 1799.

[12]

Articles and resources

References

  1. Article I, Section 2: The Constitution of the United States National Archives
  2. Article II, Section 4: The Constitution of the United States National Archives
  3. IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS, Congressional Directory, Accessed May 15 2007.
  4. Brian J. Henchey,Backgrounder on Impeachment, Legal Information Institute, Accessed May 17, 2007.
  5. T.J. Halstead, "An Overview of the Impeachment Process," Congressional Research Service, Updated April 20, 2005.
  6. T.J. Halstead, "An Overview of the Impeachment Process," Congressional Research Service, Updated April 20, 2005.
  7. Article I, Section 3: The Constitution of the United States National Archives
  8. Article I, Section 3: The Constitution of the United States National Archives
  9. Brian J. Henchey,Backgrounder on Impeachment, Legal Information Institute, Accessed May 17, 2007.
  10. IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS, Congressional Directory, Accessed May 15 2007.
  11. IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS, Congressional Directory, Accessed May 15 2007.
  12. IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS, Congressional Directory, Accessed May 15 2007.

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