Article II Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states, “The 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.” The United States is no stranger to impeachment proceedings. In 1868, the House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson for violating a recently passed act concerning cabinet officials. In 1998, the House of Representatives impeached President Bill Clinton for perjury and obstructing justice during an investigation. In both cases, the Senate voted against removing the president from office.
Currently, the House of Representatives is conducting an investigation into whether President Trump used the power of the executive to advance his own political interests by asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Democratic contender Joe Biden.
The controversy has re-opened the question of what is considered an impeachable offense. Some argue that it is good that the Constitution does not specifically state what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors.” They argue that this broad language is beneficial as it allows the House of Representatives to use its judgment in determining what constitutes a “high crime and misdemeanor.”
Others argue that the broadness of the impeachment clause makes it difficult to remove a president from office, even if the law has been broken. This side argues that a more specific list of what constitutes a “high crime and misdemeanor” would make it easier to remove a misbehaving executive from office.
So, what do you think? Should the impeachment clause of the Constitution stay broadly written and applied? Students can either argue Yes, the impeachment clause of the Constitution should stay broadly written and applied, No, a more specific definition of what constitutes an impeachable offense is needed, or something in between!
Note: Ideal Think the Vote responses include the following:
-Address the question asked in a thoughtful and meaningful manner
-Use cited facts and constitutional arguments when appropriate to support their answers
-Are expressed in cohesive sentences and is free of distracting spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors
-They address counter-arguments and opposing concerns in a respectful manner
-They organize their answer in a manner that flows logically and reads clearly