The Law Behind Impeachment Essay Research Paper

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The Law Behind Impeachment Essay, Research Paper The framers of the Constitution had numerous discussions leading up to the ratification of the Constitution. Some of the discussions centered on the Executive branch of the government, while others were about impeachment. Their discussions determined what powers and limitations the executive branch was to operate under, and what to do when the power of the office was abused. Article II, of the Constitution of the United States, allocates and outlines the executive branch of the government. The Executive Branch consists of the President, Vice-President, and their staff. Before the President elect can assume his or her duties as President, he or she must take a sworn oath of office. Within that oath, the President agrees to

faithfully execute all laws (9-12). Since the times of George Washington, all Presidents have taken this “Oath of Office” The U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 4, states “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”(12). According to the Washington Post, “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” dates back to 1787. In that year, the men working on the Constitution came upon an unresolved question: “Under what circumstances should Congress be able to impeach the President?” The framers of the Constitution had agreed that treason and bribery were grounds for impeachment. George Mason, of Virginia, indicated that those

two crimes did not capture the “many great and dangerous offenses”. When others complained that his term was too vague, he offered “high Crimes and Misdemeanors”(5). “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” could mean anything from murder to jaywalking. Webster’s Dictionary defines crimes as “an act or the commission of an act that is forbidden by public law and makes the offender liable to punishment by that law” and a misdemeanor is defined as “a crime less serious than a felony”(266.728). The Founding Fathers debated over the subject of impeachment. According to the Washington Post, Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper No. 70, that impeachment is necessary because of a President’s ability to “conceal faults and destroy responsibility”. He also wrote

about impeachment in Federalist Paper No. 65, saying the President must be impeached for “those offenses, which proceed the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust”. Future Supreme Court Justice James Iredell stated the President is “personally responsible for any abuse of the great trust reposed in him”. He went on to say the President “must certainly be punishable for giving false information”(2-8). In Federalist Paper No. 64, John Jay indicates that the security for fidelity of our nation’s leaders will be their “honor, oaths, reputation, conscience, love of country, family affections, and attachments”(4). The Washington Post goes on to report that James Wilson, Representative of Pennsylvania, wrote that

a President “cannot act improperly, and hide neither his negligence or inattention”. He also said the President is “far from being above the laws; he is amenable to them in his private character as a citizen, and in his public character by impeachment”(3). Who decides what are “high Crimes and Misdemeanors”? . According to the Washington Post, when the subject of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” reached the Supreme Court, it held that “such phrases must be construed, not according to modern usage, but according to what the framers meant when they adopted them”(6). History makes it clear that the definition is manipulated to meet political needs. According to Nickles, President Ford said of the phrase, “Whatever a majority of the House of Representatives