Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Reason.com: “Why Impeachment Should Proceed Even if it Cannot be Completed Until After Trump Leaves Office”. Below is an excerpt from the article.
In my last post, I highlighted the case for a swift impeachment and conviction of Trump, outlined by the unlikely alliance of famed conservative constitutional law scholar Michael Stokes Paulsen and prominent liberals Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that the Senate probably will not take up any impeachment voted by the House until after Trump’s term ends on January 20.
In this post, I explain why an impeachment trial conducted after Trump leaves office would be both constitutional and serve valuable purposes.
Nothing in the text of the Constitution bars impeaching and trying officials who have already left office. Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution indicates that “[t]he 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.” Article I, Section 3, Clause 7 says that “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.” Notice that the latter is a penalty that can be applied even to an official who is no longer in office.
Michael Paulsen, a leading conservative legal scholar and academic expert on impeachment summarizes why it makes sense to interpret this text as allowing impeachment of former office-holders as well as current ones:
There is a fair argument that the Constitution would permit impeachment, conviction and disqualification from future office even of a former president, in order to impose the punishment of disqualification. Impeachment is the exclusive method for removing a president from office but nothing in the constitutional text literally limits impeachment to present officeholders. Moreover, it would seem almost absurd to permit a miscreant officeholder to frustrate completely the possibility of receiving the constitutionally contemplated punishment of disqualification from future office by quickly submitting a pre-emptive resignation, hoping to launch a new bid for office in the future. The impeachment power thus arguably extends to former officeholders.
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