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Did You Ever Wonder?
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many actions of either house. Notice that the framers controlled
for the possibility that some members of the Senate may try
to boycott the process by not attending. Hence the contingent
requirement of "...Concurrence of two thirds of the Members
Maxim of English constitutional law that King can do no
wrong cannot apply to President in view of Art. I, § 3, cl. 6.
Langford v United States (1880) 101 US 341, 11 Otto 341, 25 L
House of Representatives has sole right to impeach officers of
government, and Senate to try them, and in such proceedings
either body may compel attendance of witnesses. Kilbourn v
Thompson (1881) 103 US 168, 13 Otto 168, 26 L Ed 377.
any other official, the Constitution is silent on who shall preside,
suggesting that this role falls to the Senate's usual presiding
officer. This may include the impeachment of the vice president,
although legal theories suggest that allowing a defendant to be
the judge in his own case would be a blatant conflict of interest.
If the Vice President did not preside over an impeachment
(of anyone besides the President), the duties would fall to the
President pro tempore of the Senate.
To convict the accused, a two-thirds majority of the senators
present is required. Conviction removes the defendant from
office. Following conviction, the Senate may vote to further
punish the individual by barring him or her from holding future
federal office, elected or appointed. Conviction by the Senate
does not bar criminal prosecution. Even after an accused has left
office, it is possible to disqualify the person from future office or
from certain emoluments of his prior office (such as a pension).
If there is no charge for which a two-thirds majority of the
senators present vote "guilty," the defendant is acquitted and no
punishment is imposed.
Vesting of impeachment power exclusively in Congress does
not preclude criminal prosecution of sitting federal judge.
United States v Claiborne (1984, CA9 Nev) 727 F2d 842, cert den
(1984) 469 US 829, 83 L Ed 2d 56, 105 S Ct 113.
Impeached judge's claim involving Senate's impeachment
procedures was nonjusticiable since Article gives Senate sole
impeachment power, including power to choose its procedure.
Nixon v United States (1991, App DC) 290 US App DC 420, 938
F2d 239, reh den (1991, App DC) 1991 US App LEXIS 25391
and affd (1993) 506 US 224, 122 L Ed 2d 1, 113 S Ct 732, 93
CDOS 279, 93 Daily Journal DAR 574, 6 FLW Fed S 821.
Judges of both Supreme and inferior courts are completely
independent of executive department of government, and
they can be removed from office only by resignation or by
impeachment by House of Representatives and conviction by
Senate. Clark v United States (1947) 109 Ct Cl 444, 72 F Supp
594, cert den (1948) 333 US 833, 92 L Ed 1117, 68 S Ct 457, reh
den (1948) 335 US 838, 93 L Ed 390, 69 S Ct 12.
At the federal level, the impeachment process is a two-step
procedure. The House of Representatives must first pass,
by a simple majority of those present and voting, articles
of impeachment, which constitute the formal allegation
or allegations. Upon passage, the defendant has been
"impeached." Next, the Senate tries the accused. In the case of
the impeachment of a president, the Chief Justice of the United
States presides over the proceedings. For the impeachment of
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