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What Is Impeachment and Its Process? What Is The History Of Impeachment In The U.S?

Referencing Styles : Harvard | Pages : 1


Impeachment is referred to as the process with the help of which the legislative body levels the charges against any official who belongs to the government of that country. It does not at any step refer to the removal of the person from the office which that individual holds. The process only refers to a statement of charges in relation to the indictment within the law which deals with all the crimes taking place under the jurisdiction of the country. Once an individual comes under the process of Impeachment, he or she must be compelled to face the possibility of the conviction by the legislative vote, after the judgment of which follows with the removal of the person from their respective office.

Since, the Impeachment and conviction of the officials involves an overturning of the normal procedures related to the constitution because of which the individuals achieve a higher office and because it is generally required to contain a supermajority, that they are usually reserved from those deemed to have committed serious abuses while acting for their office. In the United States, referring to an hypothetical situation, Impeachment taking place on a federal level is limited to those only who may have done something related to the crimes such that of treason, bribery or any other form of higher crime.

Impeachment shares its existence under the law related to the constitution of many countries including the likes of Brazil, Ireland, India, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, France and United States.

The word Impeachment is derived from an old French empeechier from the Latin word impedire expressing the idea of the catching or ensnaring by the foot and has analogues in the modern French verb Empecher and the modern English impede. Impeachment was first introduced in the English political system. Specifically, the process was first implemented by the English “Good Parliament” against the Baron Latimer in the second half of the 14th century.

Process of Impeachment

The House of Commons in entrusted upon with the power to impeach. Any member may make any kind of an accusation of any crime. The member must provide a support to the charge with any kind of evidences and move further with the Impeachment. If the Commons carry the motion, the mover receives orders to go to the bar situated at the House of Lords and to impeach the accused, “In the name of the House of Commons, and all the commons of the united Kingdom”.

The mover must inform the lords that the House of Commons will in a short period of time exhibit the particular articles against the individuals accused and make good the same. The Commons then usually appoint a committee to draw up the charges and create an article related to that of Impeachment for each. Once a committee has delivered the articles to the respective lords, replies go between the accused and the Commons via the lords. If the Common impeach a peer, the Lords take the custody of the accused individual, or else the custody of the individual goes to the Black Rod. The accused remains in the custody unless the lords allow bail. The lords set a specific date for the trial while on the other hand, the commons appoints the managers who again act as prosecutors in the trial. The accused may defend the counsel.

This is followed by the House of the Lords hearing upon the matter. The procedure used to be that the Lord Chancellor presided, however this was when the Lord Chancellor was both the lord of the presiding officer and the head of the judiciary of England and Wales. Since, both of the roles were removed from that office which is mentioned by the Constitutional Reform Act of 2005, which made Lord Speaker to preside over the Lords and made the Lord Chief justice head of the judiciary, it is not certain who would preside over an impeachment trial the same day. If the parliament of the state is not in session, then the trial is being conducted by the Court of the Lord high Steward instead of the House of the Lords. The difference between this particular court and that of the House of Lords are that in the house all of the peers which are present are judges of both the law and fact, whereas on the other hand, within the court of the Lord High Steward is the sole judge of law and the peers decide the facts only. As well as, the bishops are not allowed to sit and vote within the court. Traditionally, peers would wear their parliamentary robes during the hearings.

Finally, the hearing resembles a trial which is very ordinary, both sides may call witnesses and present the evidence in front of them. At the end of the hearing, all the lords provide their vote on the verdict which is then decided by a simple majority, one charge at a single time. Upon being called, a peer has to stand and declare whether the convict is guilty or not guilty. After the vote has been given upon all the articles which are present, and if all the lords find the convict guilty, the Commons may move for the judgment. The lords on the other hand, may not declare the punishment until and unless the lords may have taken a step for it. The lords may declare the punishment according to the fact that whatever suits the best for the crime, stated within the law. A royal pardon cannot excuse the defendant from the trial, but a pardon may reprieve a convicted defendant. However, a pardon cannot change the decision and remove the convicted person from the office which they hold or are in-charge of.  

History of Impeachment in the United States

The process of Impeachment in the United States was first suggested by the person commonly referred to as, Benjamin Franklin during the period of the Constitutional Convention in the year of 1787. Keeping a note of the procedure for the removal of obnoxious chief executives like that of the kings from the power of assassination, Franklin blatantly suggested the process of Impeachment to be a more rational and preferable method.

During the rule of the constitution of the United States, the president of the United States, the vice president and all of the civil officers of the United States may be placed under the conviction of Impeachment and may be removed from the office if the convicted of crimes such as that of Treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The Constitution also plays a part in the establishment of the process of Impeachment.

Impeachment related to that of the President may be the last thing which can take place in the state of America. In fact, since the year of 1841, over one-third of all the American Presidents have either taken the deathbed in their office, had become disable or may have resigned. However, no American president has ever been compelled to leave the office they have been serving due to conviction related to Impeachment.

It has been only four times, that the Congress has held serious discussions of presidential Impeachment,

  • A person named Andrew Johnson was actually impeached when the Congress had become unhappy about the fact that the way he was dealing with some of the post-Civil War matters, but Johnson was acquitted in the Senate by one vote and remained in the office.
  • Congress had introduced a resolution to impeach John Tyler over the issues related to the rights of the state, however the resolution was a failure.
  • Congress was having a debate over his Impeachment related to the Watergate break-in when the President Richard Nixon had resigned from his office.
  • William J. Clinton was placed under the process of Impeachment by the House due to charges related to perjury and obstruction of justice in accordance with the White House intern named, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was eventually acquitted by the Senate.

The process of Impeachment plays within Congress and is in requirement of critical votes in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. More often, it is stated that the House impeaches and the Senate is entrusted with the responsibility to carry out the conviction. In essence, the House first takes the decision if there exists grounds for the president to be impeached. And then, the Senate sets the trial for the process of Impeachment.

In accordance to the impeachable offenses, the Article II, section 4 of the constitution states that the President, Vice President and all the other existing civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from the Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of , Treason, Bribery or other High crimes and misdemeanors.

Till date, two federal judges have been impeached and have been removed from the Office based on the charges of bribery. No federal officials till date have ever faced Impeachment based on the charges related to treason.


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