What the Constitution Says About Impeachment

 Democratic President John F. Kennedy was a Senator from Massachusetts in when he published this book in 1955.  It tells of of a handful of Republican Senators who stopped the conviction and removal of Democratic President Andrew Johnson.   Johnson was impeached by a Republican majority in the House of Representatives Congress because he opposed their policies, even though there was no evidence that he committed “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”.  Each Republican Senator knew that by defying their party and overwhelming popular opinion, they had destroyed their political careers.  

The Constitution was not written for lawyers or scholars. It was written to be understood and applied by ordinary Americans of average intelligence, with an Eighth Grade education.

Almost any American can read, understand, and apply the Constitution. You only need to be a lawyer or Constitutional “scholar” if you want excuses or loopholes to avoid, evade, or ignore it.

Article I (Article 1 – Legislative)

Section 1

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 2

1: The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States. . .

5: The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section 3

1: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State. . .  for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

5: The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

6: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

7: 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: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section 5

3: Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Article II (Article 2 – Executive)

Section 1

1: The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows. . .

Section 4

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

We can draw the following conclusions about impeachment from the plain language of the Constitution set forth above:

  1. On December 18, 2019, the House of Representatives impeached President Trump pursuant to its powers under Article I, Section 5.   It voted 230 to 197 to impeach President Trump for “abuse of power”. It voted 229 to 198 to impeach President Trump for “obstruction of Congress”.   President Trump is a Republican. Not a single Republican voted for either article of impeachment. Two Democrats, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota voted against both articles. Democrat Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii voted “present’ on both articles. Democrat Jared Golden of Maine voted “yes” on “abuse of power” and “no” on obstruction of Congress.
  2. The House of Representatives had the Constitutional right to do what it did. Article I, Section 2, Paragraph #3 gives the House of Representatives “the sole Power of Impeachment”. The Constitution does not give any court or other branch of government the power to review actions of the House of Representatives pertaining to impeachment.
  3. The impeachment took place when the vote was taken. According to Article I Section 5, Paragraph #3, the House of Representatives was required to record that vote in its “Journal of Its Proceedings”. The Constitution does NOT require the Speaker of the House or any other official to deliver any notice of the vote to the Senate or to appoint “impeachment managers” or anyone else to pursue impeachment proceedings in the Senate.

 

  1. Article I, Section 3, Paragraph #6 says:  “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. . .”

Just as the House of Representatives has “the sole Power of Impeachment”, the Senate has “the sole Power to try all impeachments”. Neither the Speaker of the House, nor any court, nor any other government official has the power to determine or control how a majority of Senators choose to “try all impeachments”.

The Senate may choose to have a trial.   However, the Senate may also choose NOT to have a trial. If a majority of Senators find there was no credible evidence of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” in the House Impeachment to support a conviction, they can vote to dismiss the impeachment without a trial.   Or, they can vote to dismiss the impeachment if they find that the House of Representative withheld or manipulated evidence or otherwise violated due process or the Constitution in the conduct of their Impeachment proceedings.

Seth Grossman, Executive Director

Libertyandprosperity.com

453 Shore Road

Somers Point, NJ  08244

(609) 927-7333

info@libertyandprosperity.com

2 thoughts on “What the Constitution Says About Impeachment”

  1. “…the Senate may also choose NOT to have a trial. If a majority of Senators find there was no credible evidence of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” in the House Impeachment to support a conviction, they can vote to dismiss the impeachment without a trial.”

    Where does it say that? Without witnesses and/or evidence how would that come to light? How would one conclude that?

    1. It happens all the time in criminal and civil law. Nobody is entitled to a trial for anything just by making accusations. If someone sues someone for money, or if a prosecutor or grand jury accuses someone of a crime, they need to provide evidence of “probable cause”. If a judge concludes after reading the complaint or hearing the opening statement that there is no “probable cause” that the plaintiff is entitled to money, or that the defendant committed a crime, the judge will dismiss the case before it goes to a jury. Ditto if person bringing the lawsuit or prosecution is not entitled to relief even if everything they say in their complaint, indictment, or opening statement is true. Impeachments are political, and the Chief Justice has no power to dismiss the impeachment for failure of probable cause, or failure to establish “bribery, treason or other high crimes or misdemeanors” in the impeachment papers or opening statements. However, a majority of Senators do have that power. Seth Grossman

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