The Constitution and impeachment

Adam Carrington writes for the Washington Examiner about impeachment‘s role in the process of constitutional government.

[T]he Constitution could have created an entirely distinct body just for impeachments. [Alexander] Hamilton counters with the ways that various litigants could manipulate this system, how costly it could be, and that it is susceptible to the same “demon of faction” that any numerous body of humans faces.

In contrast, the House accusing and the Senate trying carries with it certain advantages. Hamilton observes that impeachable offenses will fall under “the abuse or violation of some public trust,” one against “society itself.” America and its people, then, are the alleged victims. Therefore, “who can so properly be the inquisitors for the nation as the representatives of the nation themselves?” What better means to vindicate a Constitution ordained by “We the People” than through their elected officials?

Furthermore, the divide between House and Senate makes sense as well. The House, with its two-year terms, is set up to reflect the more immediate and passionate will of the people. That passion better makes for accusation than for determination. The Senate, with its six-year allotments, better embodies an independence required to more calmly reflect, to more impartially weigh facts in a trial setting. As their combined deliberation makes legislation better, so their combined accusation and determination elevates the impeachment process.

We do not know for certain how this latest impeachment saga will end. Congress and the public must assess the legitimacy of these new accusations. But we can know and trust the Constitution’s process for such assessment and its placement in our legislative branch.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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