Impeachment in the United States
Impeachment in the United States is the process by which a legislature brings charges against a civil officer of government. Grounds for impeachment include abuse of the particular trust of the government or a violation of the public trust. In impeachment proceedings, the defendant does not risk forfeiture of life, liberty, or property.
About Impeachment in the United States in brief
Impeachment in the United States is the process by which a legislature brings charges against a civil officer of government. Most impeachments have concerned alleged crimes committed while in office, but there have been a few cases in which officials have been impeached and convicted for crimes committed prior to taking office. The purpose of impeachment is not to inflict punishment for criminal activity, but to remove individuals unfit for office. Grounds for impeachment include abuse of the particular trust of the government or a violation of the public trust, says Julian Zelizer. The Constitution limits grounds of impeachment to Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors, he says, but it’s not clear what the precise meaning of that phrase was in the 17th and 18th centuries. Zelizer: In impeachment proceedings, the defendant does not risk forfeiture of life, liberty, or property, as in a criminal trial, which would be much more likely to result in forfeiture of a person’s life or property. The only penalties allowed to be imposed by the Senate are removal from office and disqualification from holding any federal office in the future, Zelizer says, adding that impeachment is a “remedial tool” for removing unfit individuals for constitutional office, not a criminal charge or punishment. charges against President Andrew Johnson were based on drunkenness, not criminal conduct, he writes. Zelizer writes. Two articles of impeachment against the President against Andrew Johnson are based on conduct that is unlikely to be barred via statute, but the House has placed little emphasis on the word “criminal” in the impeachment articles.
The House has not explicitly used the word criminal statute or used it to describe the conduct of the President, he adds. In the past both houses of Congress have found that impeachable offenses need not be limited to criminal conduct is not necessarily a prosecutable offense. According to this conduct is “political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself” In impeachment cases, the House of Representatives has not specifically charged the President with drunkenness or inducing parties to enter financial transactions, which is specifically a criminal violation of financial transactions. The impeachment process is akin to the bringing of an indictment by a grand jury, says Zelizer, and it is not intended to be a punishment for a criminal offense or a criminal conviction. It’s meant to remove an official from office until a trial is held, and that trial is separate from the act of impeachment itself. A person can be removed from office if convicted of a crime committed before he or she took office, or if the charge is related to his or her service as a public official or official in a state, such as a judge or attorney general, or a member of the U.S. House of Reps. or a state legislature, in accordance with their respective federal or state constitution. Impeachment may occur at the federal level or the state level. Each state’s legislature can impeach state officials, including the governor.