THE ADVOCATE 23
VOL. 76 PART 1 JANUARY 2018
his conduct in that post that he was impeached for misappropriating public
funds. He was acquitted, but never held public office again.
Though the impeachment process has not been used in England in 200
years, it still embodies the principle that ministers and officials can be
made criminally liable for corruption, gross negligence or other misfeasances
in the conduct of the affairs of the nation.
Recently Brazil and South Korea have both removed their presidents by
means of the process of impeachment.
In the United States impeachment is established by its written constitution.
At the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, when discussing the new constitution,
Benjamin Franklin commented that historically, obnoxious chief
executives were removed by assassination. He allowed that a procedural
mechanism would be preferable.
This is what resulted:
The House of Representatives shall chose their Speaker and other
Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.2
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.3
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
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.5
The process is similar to that in England. In the United States, the House
of Representatives will investigate a proposal to impeach and if it votes, by
a simple majority, to impeach it will present articles of impeachment to the
Senate, which will then try the case.
Three presidents have been impeached (with the technicality noted
below): Andrew Johnson in 1868 for violating the Tenure of Office Act by
firing his secretary for war (which he had no authority to do), Richard Nixon
in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998. None was convicted. Johnson was acquitted,
Clinton was acquitted of perjury and obstruction of justice and Nixon
resigned before the House of Representatives voted on the issue. So, technically,
Nixon was never actually impeached.