July 20: Impeachment

Having discussed the great strength of the President during the previous day, the Convention now turned to the crucial control on that strength: impeachment. The form of the Constitution not just here but throughout the structure always ties power to responsibility. The President can be vigorous because the President is subject both to reelection and to impeachment. All-too-often when our political culture discusses the Constitution too much emphasis is placed on the checks. In placing such emphasis on these checks, we assume the essential purpose of the Constitution was to limit governmental power. But the Presidency is the example par-excellence … Continue reading July 20: Impeachment

A Common Script for Dislodging Trumpism – Retrospective Thoughts on Impeachment 2.0

As some of my colleagues here know, I was a bit frustrated throughout the second impeachment that there wasn’t more focus on Trump’s dereliction of duty on January 6. It seemed clear to me at the time that the dereliction charge would have been more intuitive than the incitement to violence charge, because everyone knew at the time that, in the very least, Trump failed to protect the Capitol when it mattered. It seemed to me that setting the bar low like this would have made conviction more likely. Jeffrey Tulis and Bill Kristol wrote about this in the lead-up … Continue reading A Common Script for Dislodging Trumpism – Retrospective Thoughts on Impeachment 2.0

Congress and Deliberation

Jack Rakove has a good piece in the Washington Post pointing out that the filibuster in the Senate does not induce deliberation. Instead, it has essentially become a supermajoritarian requirement to lawmaking giving us a Senate “that prefers parliamentary obstruction to constructive deliberation — something the “greatest deliberative body in the world” now seems incapable of doing.” This is not what James Madison had in mind. On that, Peter Wehner has a great essay that echoes much of what has been said here about representatives actually reasoning and thinking—deliberating about the public good—rather than simply being the mouthpieces of their constituents. As Wehner writes, … Continue reading Congress and Deliberation

Constitutions as Self-Restraint

I’m a bit late to the party on this, but Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida, recently offered one of the more strained arguments against an impeachment trial for former President Trump. It would be, he said the weekend before last, “arrogant” to disqualify Trump from running for office again. “Who are we to tell voters who they can vote for in the future?” Rubio mistakes not just the impeachment power but also the nature of constitutional government itself. Written constitutions place all manner of restraints on the people. Try Rubio’s argument from the opposite side. Consider, hypothetically, an … Continue reading Constitutions as Self-Restraint

I Think I am Against a Senate Impeachment Trial for Trump

Jeffrey C. Isaac is the James H. Rudy Professor in the Department of Political Science at Indiana University. The best thing now is to let Trump leave the White House in disgrace, to do everything possible to put him out of the public mind, and to move forward politically with the business of Democratic governance and democratic citizenship. I think I am against a Senate impeachment trial. I think I am. I’m not sure. I am sure about little these days. But I am pretty sure that a Senate trial is not a very good idea. Of course Trump deserves … Continue reading I Think I am Against a Senate Impeachment Trial for Trump

Impeachment vs. Censure: Constitutional Law, Politics, and the Art of the Possible

Brian C. Kalt is Professor of Law & The Harold Norris Faculty Scholar at Michigan State University College of Law One difficulty in writing about President Trump and impeachment—or about President Trump and anything, really—is that the news cycle has become so short. Events often overtake predictions. We cannot know what Trump and others will do and say between now and the end of the Senate trial. As such, we cannot know how many senators will vote to convict. But at some point, perhaps well before the trial is over, Democrats may conclude that they have no possibility of garnering … Continue reading Impeachment vs. Censure: Constitutional Law, Politics, and the Art of the Possible

Symposium on Impeachment

Susan McWilliams Barndt is Chair and Professor of Politics at Pomona College. On the one hand: I study American political thought and history. So I understand that impeachment is a big deal. On the other hand: I’ve already lived through three impeachments. So I understand that impeachment is banal. On the one hand: I don’t want to be glib because this may well be a moment of real significance in the history of the republic. On the other hand: Been there, done that. * * * When we’re talking about impeachment, here’s an underlying problem: Right now, it is hard … Continue reading Symposium on Impeachment