What Is the Formal Impeachment Process?

What Is the Formal Impeachment Process

(ConservativeJournal.org) – You may already be familiar with the concept of presidential impeachment. But, what you might not know is the impeachment process itself is applicable to all civil officers. The right to impeach comes directly from the US Constitution and is part of the checks and balances within the federal government.

Formal impeachment is a fairly straightforward process. While it mirrors the criminal justice system to a certain degree, its exact application and process are slightly different.

Constitutional Power

The US Constitution allows for the impeachment of a civil officer on the grounds of treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors. However, there’s no formal definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” leaving its application relatively up for debate.

The Constitution also appoints the US House of Representatives with the power to impeach. The US Senate, on the other hand, is granted the right to conduct impeachment trials. Essentially, the House acts as a grand jury, while the Senate serves as a trial court.

Impeachment in the House

The US House of Representatives handles impeachment under its oversight and investigatory responsibilities. Proceedings may begin with any member of the House suggesting impeachment just as they would any other bill. Alternatively, the House may pass a resolution for an inquiry to impeach.

The Committee of the Judiciary will then conduct an investigation. If it finds grounds for impeachment, it will present articles to the full House, who will then put it to a vote. A simple majority in favor adopts the articles. At that point, the House appoints members to serve as prosecutors in the Senate trial.

Trial in the Senate

The US Senate acts as the High Court of Impeachment. It hears the case from the representatives sent by the House who present witnesses and evidence. In presidential impeachment hearings, the US Supreme Court’s chief justice presides over it.

The Senate then votes either to convict or acquit. Conviction requires a two-thirds majority. If this occurs, the individual impeached is immediately removed from office. They may also be disqualified from holding future public office.

The Senate does not impose other punishments.

The Senate’s findings in an impeachment trial are final. There’s no appeals process to an impeachment conviction, either, meaning that someone convicted cannot attempt to overturn the results of the vote.

Impeachment is a serious and solemn duty for Congress. It’s a process the Founding Fathers felt necessary to hold the highest government officials accountable for their actions. Today, it plays a critical role in protecting the integrity of our country.

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