Saturday, March 21, 2009

Letter to Instapundit re:
"Are Senator Dodd's A.I.G. Actions Impeachable?"

Regarding your statement, "ARE SENATOR DODD’S A.I.G. ACTIONS IMPEACHABLE? Since Senators can’t be impeached, no." do you overstate the position? As I read the Constitution any person can be impeached at any time. Nothing in the text says that Congresscritters are immune. Nothing even says that the subject of the impeachment has to be a current employee or citizen of the United States. All that it says is that the punishment can not extend past disbarment from holding an office of profit or trust. So it appears to me that the House could impeach Senator Dodd and then if the Senate choose to convict him, which they could do in theory even if he choose to resign, it would be up to the Senate to decide whether to;
1) bar him from non-elective office
2) expel him and bar him from holding elective office
3) bar him from holding any office elective or non-elected
4) censure or reprimand him.

Agreed that it is precedent for Congress to seat an impeached and convicted person, Alcee Hastings but does that disbar the Senate from setting a higher level of punishment? Agreed also that it is unlikely that the Senate would try a former employee of the government if the person choose to resign but does that mean that they can't? Agreed that it is unlikely that Senator Dodd would face an impeachment or an expulsion but does that mean that his actions are not impeachable?



I did get a reply properly noting that I had misread Article Two (sect.4) which states, "The President, Vice President, and all other 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." My error being in focusing on Article One and neglecting Article Two by not properly construing the term "civil Officers" as limiting the power to employees of the government at the time of impeachment.

On Mar 21, 2009, at 11:30 AM, Glenn Reynolds wrote:

Only civil officers of the United States are subject to impeachment.

My reply follows.
Was not sure if the precedent of William Blount in 1799 had ever been definitively settled. But I did overstate, they do appear to have to be (present tense) a "civil officer." In the 17th to 18th centuries the term Civil Servant applied to both the Members of Parliament and to the Crown Servants who executed the sovereign's will.

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