Impeachment in the United States

Impeachment in the United States

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Encyclopedia
Impeachment in the United States is an expressed power of the legislature
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 that allows for formal charges against a civil officer of government for crimes committed in office. The actual trial on those charges, and subsequent removal of an official on conviction
Conviction
In law, a conviction is the verdict that results when a court of law finds a defendant guilty of a crime.The opposite of a conviction is an acquittal . In Scotland and in the Netherlands, there can also be a verdict of "not proven", which counts as an acquittal...

 on those charges, is separate from the act of impeachment
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 itself.

Impeachment is analogous to indictment
Indictment
An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

 in regular court proceedings, while trial by the other house is analogous to the trial
Trial
A trial is, in the most general sense, a test, usually a test to see whether something does or does not meet a given standard.It may refer to:*Trial , the presentation of information in a formal setting, usually a court...

 before judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

 and jury
Jury
A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt, or lack thereof, in a crime. In Anglophone jurisdictions, the verdict may be guilty,...

 in regular courts. Typically, the lower house
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

 of the legislature will impeach the official and the upper house
Upper house
An upper house, often called a senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house; a legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.- Possible specific characteristics :...

 will conduct the trial.

At the federal level
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

, Article II of the United States Constitution (Section 4) states that "The President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, Vice President
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

, Bribery
Bribery
Bribery, a form of corruption, is an act implying money or gift giving that alters the behavior of the recipient. Bribery constitutes a crime and is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or...

, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors." The House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 has the sole power of impeaching, while the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 has the sole power to try all impeachments. The removal of impeached officials is automatic upon conviction in the Senate. In Nixon v. United States
Nixon v. United States
Nixon v. United States, 506 U.S. 224 , was a United States Supreme Court decision that determined that the question of whether the Senate had properly "tried" an impeachment was a political question, and could not be resolved in the Courts.-Facts:...

(1993), the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 determined that the federal judiciary cannot review such proceedings.

Impeachment can also occur at the state level
State governments of the United States
State governments in the United States are those republics formed by citizens in the jurisdiction thereof as provided by the United States Constitution; with the original 13 States forming the first Articles of Confederation, and later the aforementioned Constitution. Within the U.S...

; state legislatures can impeach state officials, including governors
Governor (United States)
In the United States, the title governor refers to the chief executive of each state or insular territory, not directly subordinate to the federal authorities, but the political and ceremonial head of the state.-Role and powers:...

, according to their respective state constitutions.

At the Philadelphia Convention
Philadelphia Convention
The Constitutional Convention took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address problems in governing the United States of America, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following independence from...

, Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

 noted that, historically, the removal of “obnoxious” chief executives had been accomplished by assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

. Franklin suggested that a proceduralized mechanism for removal — impeachment — would be preferable.

The House of Representatives



Impeachment proceedings may be commenced by a member of the House of Representatives on their own initiative, either by presenting a listing of the charges under oath, or by asking for referral to the appropriate committee
United States Congressional committee
A congressional committee is a legislative sub-organization in the United States Congress that handles a specific duty . Committee membership enables members to develop specialized knowledge of the matters under their jurisdiction...

. The impeachment process may be triggered by non-members. For example, when the Judicial Conference of the United States
Judicial Conference of the United States
The Judicial Conference of the United States, formerly known as Conference of Senior Circuit Judges, was created by the United States Congress in 1922 with the principal objective of framing policy guidelines for administration of judicial courts in the United States...

 suggests a federal judge be impeached, a charge of what actions constitute grounds for impeachment may come from a special prosecutor
Special prosecutor
A special prosecutor generally is a lawyer from outside the government appointed by an attorney general or, in the United States, by Congress to investigate a government official for misconduct while in office. A reasoning for such an appointment is that the governmental branch or agency may have...

, the President, a state or territorial legislature, grand jury
Grand jury
A grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing...

, or by petition
Petition
A petition is a request to do something, most commonly addressed to a government official or public entity. Petitions to a deity are a form of prayer....

.

The type of impeachment resolution
Resolution (law)
A resolution is a written motion adopted by a deliberative body. The substance of the resolution can be anything that can normally be proposed as a motion. For long or important motions, though, it is often better to have them written out so that discussion is easier or so that it can be...

 determines to which committee it will be referred. A resolution impeaching a particular individual is typically referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
United States House Committee on the Judiciary
The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, also called the House Judiciary Committee, is a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives. It is charged with overseeing the administration of justice within the federal courts, administrative agencies and Federal law enforcement...

. A resolution to authorize an investigation regarding impeachable conduct is referred to the House Committee on Rules
United States House Committee on Rules
The Committee on Rules, or Rules Committee, is a committee of the United States House of Representatives. Rather than being responsible for a specific area of policy, as most other committees are, it is in charge of determining under what rule other bills will come to the floor...

, and then referred to the Judiciary Committee. The House Committee on the Judiciary, by majority vote, will determine whether grounds for impeachment exist. If the Committee finds grounds for impeachment they will set forth specific allegations of misconduct in one or more articles of impeachment. The Impeachment Resolution, or Article(s) of Impeachment, are then reported to the full House with the committee's recommendations.

The House debates the resolution and may at the conclusion consider the resolution as a whole or vote on each article of impeachment individually. A simple majority
Majority
A majority is a subset of a group consisting of more than half of its members. This can be compared to a plurality, which is a subset larger than any other subset; i.e. a plurality is not necessarily a majority as the largest subset may consist of less than half the group's population...

 of those present and voting is required for each article or the resolution as a whole to pass. If the House votes to impeach, managers (typically referred to as "House managers", with a "lead House manager") are selected to present the case to the Senate. Recently, managers have been selected by resolution, while historically the House would occasionally elect the managers or pass a resolution allowing the appointment of managers at the discretion of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, or Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives...

. These managers are roughly the equivalent of the prosecution/district attorney in a standard criminal trial.

Also, the House will adopt a resolution in order to notify the Senate of its action. After receiving the notice, the Senate will adopt an order notifying the House that it is ready to receive the managers. The House managers then appear before the bar of the Senate and exhibit the articles of impeachment. After the reading of the charges, the managers return and make a verbal report to the House.

Senate


The proceedings unfold in the form of a trial, with each side having the right to call witnesses and perform cross-examination
Cross-examination
In law, cross-examination is the interrogation of a witness called by one's opponent. It is preceded by direct examination and may be followed by a redirect .- Variations by Jurisdiction :In...

s. The House members, who are given the collective title of managers during the course of the trial, present the prosecution case and the impeached official has the right to mount a defense with his own attorneys as well. Senators must also take an oath
Oath
An oath is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow...

 or affirmation
Affirmation in law
In law, an affirmation is a solemn declaration allowed to those who conscientiously object to taking an oath. An affirmation has exactly the same legal effect as an oath, but is usually taken to avoid the religious implications of an oath...

 that they will perform their duties honestly and with due diligence
Due diligence
"Due diligence" is a term used for a number of concepts involving either an investigation of a business or person prior to signing a contract, or an act with a certain standard of care. It can be a legal obligation, but the term will more commonly apply to voluntary investigations...

 (as opposed to the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 in the Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

, who vote upon their honor). After hearing the charges, the Senate usually deliberates in private. Conviction requires a two-thirds majority.

The Senate enters judgment on its decision, whether that be to convict or acquit, and a copy of the judgment is filed with the Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

. Upon conviction, the official is automatically removed from office and may also be barred from holding future office. The removed official is also liable to criminal prosecution. The President may not grant a pardon in the impeachment case, but may in any resulting criminal case.

Beginning in the 1980s, the Senate began using "Impeachment Trial Committees" pursuant to Senate Rule XII. These committees presided over the evidentiary phase of the trials, hearing the evidence and supervising the examination and cross-examination of witnesses. The committees would then compile the evidentiary record and present it to the Senate; all senators would then have the opportunity to review the evidence before the chamber voted to convict or acquit. The purpose of the committees was to streamline impeachment trials, which otherwise would have taken up a great deal of the chamber's time. Defendants challenged the use of these committees, claiming them to be a violation of their fair trial rights as well as the Senate's constitutional mandate, as a body, to have "sole power to try all impeachments." Several impeached judges sought court intervention in their impeachment proceedings on these grounds, but the courts refused to become involved due to the Constitution's granting of impeachment and removal power solely to the legislative branch, making it a political question
Political question
In American Constitutional law, the political question doctrine is closely linked to the concept of justiciability, as it comes down to a question of whether or not the court system is an appropriate forum in which to hear the case. This is because the court system only has authority to hear and...

.

History


In writing Article II, Section Four, George Mason
George Mason
George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

 had favored impeachment for "maladministration" (incompetence
Incompetence
Incompetence is the inability to perform; lack of competence; ineptitude.* Administrative incompetence, dysfunctional administrative behaviors that hinder attainment of organization goals...

), but James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

, who favored impeachment only for criminal behavior, carried the issue. Hence, cases of impeachment may be undertaken only for "treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors." However, some scholars, such as Kevin Gutzman
Kevin Gutzman
Kevin R. Constantine Gutzman is an American historian, Constitutional scholar notable for having written The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution. He is a professor of the Department of History and Non-Western Cultures at Western Connecticut State University. He is an outspoken critic of...

, have disputed this view and argue that the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" was intended to have a much more expansive meaning.

The Congress traditionally regards impeachment as a power to use only in extreme cases; the House of Representatives has actually initiated impeachment proceedings only 62 times since 1789. Two cases did not come to trial because the individuals had left office.

Actual impeachments of 19 federal officers have taken place. Of these, 15 were federal judges
United States federal judge
In the United States, the title of federal judge usually means a judge appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate in accordance with Article II of the United States Constitution....

: Thirteen district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

, one court of appeals
United States court of appeals
The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system...

 (who also sat on the Commerce Court
United States Commerce Court
The Commerce Court of the United States was a brief-lived federal trial court. It was created by the Mann-Elkins Act in 1910 and abolished a mere three years later. The Commerce Court was a specialized court, given jurisdiction over cases arising from orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission...

), and one Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 Associate Justice
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are the members of the Supreme Court of the United States other than the Chief Justice of the United States...

. Of the other four, two were Presidents, one was a Cabinet
United States Cabinet
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...

 secretary, and one was a U.S. Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

. Of the 18 impeached officials, seven were convicted. One, former judge Alcee Hastings
Alcee Hastings
Alcee Lamar Hastings is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1993. He is a member of the Democratic Party.-Early life, education and career:...

, was elected as a member of the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 after being removed from office.

The 1797 impeachment of Senator William Blount of Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 stalled on the grounds that the Senate lacked jurisdiction over him. Because, in a separate action unrelated to the impeachment procedure, the Senate had already expelled Blount, the lack of jurisdiction may have been either because Blount was no longer a Senator, or because Senators are not civil officers of the federal government and therefore not subject to impeachment. No other member of Congress has ever been impeached, although the Constitution does give authority to either house to expel members, which each has done on occasion, removing the individual from functioning as a representative or senator for misbehavior. Expulsion, unlike impeachment, cannot bar an individual from holding future office.

Impeachment of a U.S. President


Two U.S. Presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 (trial
Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, was one of the most dramatic events in the political life of the United States during Reconstruction, and the first impeachment in history of a sitting United States president....

) and Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 (trial
Impeachment of Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton, President of the United States, was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice on December 19, 1998, but acquitted by the Senate on February 12, 1999. Two other impeachment articles, a second perjury charge and a charge of abuse of...

). Both were acquitted at trial.

When an Impeachment process involves a U.S. President, the Chief Justice of the United States
Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States...

 is required to preside during the Senate trial. In all other trials (except for the impeachment of the Vice President) the Vice President would preside in his capacity as President of the Senate. It is not known for sure who would preside over the impeachment trial of the Vice President.

Federal officials impeached

# Date of Impeachment Accused Office Result
1 July 7, 1797

William Blount
William Blount
William Blount, was a United States statesman. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention for North Carolina, the first and only governor of the Southwest Territory, and Democratic-Republican Senator from Tennessee . He played a major role in establishing the state of Tennessee. He was the...

United States Senator (Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

)
Dismissed on January 14, 1799
2 March 2, 1803
John Pickering
John Pickering (judge)
John Pickering served as Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court of Judicature and as Judge for the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire...

Judge (District of New Hampshire
United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire
The United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction comprises the state of New Hampshire. The Warren B. Rudman U.S...

)
Removed on March 12, 1804
3 March 12, 1804

Samuel Chase
Samuel Chase
Samuel Chase was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and earlier was a signatory to the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Maryland. Early in life, Chase was a "firebrand" states-righter and revolutionary...

Associate Justice (Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

)
Acquitted on March 1, 1805
4 April 24, 1830

James H. Peck
James H. Peck
James Hawkins Peck was a son of Revolutionary Soldier Adam Peck and his wife Elizabeth Sharkey Peck. He was a United States federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of Missouri...

Judge (District of Missouri) Acquitted on January 31, 1831
5 May 6, 1862

West Hughes Humphreys
West Hughes Humphreys
West Hughes Humphreys was a United States District Court judge, and a judge of the Confederate States of America...

Judge (Eastern
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee is the federal court in the Sixth Circuit whose jurisdiction covers all of East Tennessee and a portion of Middle Tennessee. The court has jurisdiction over 41 counties with 4 divisions...

, Middle
United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee is the federal trial court for most of Middle Tennessee. Based in Nashville, it was created in 1839 when Congress added a third district to the state...

, and Western
United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
The United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee is the Federal district court covering the western part of the state of Tennessee. Appeals from the Western District of Tennessee are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit The United States District...

 Districts of Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

)
Removed and disqualified on June 26, 1862
6 February 24, 1868

Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

Acquitted
Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, was one of the most dramatic events in the political life of the United States during Reconstruction, and the first impeachment in history of a sitting United States president....

 on May 26, 1868
7 February 28, 1873

Mark W. Delahay
Mark W. Delahay
Mark W. Delahay was a United States federal judge, and an early supporter of the Republican Party. A friend of Abraham Lincoln, Delahay was appointed by Lincoln to the federal bench, but he resigned a decade later under threat of impeachment, brought about by allegations of alcoholism.- Early life...

Judge (District of Kansas
United States District Court for the District of Kansas
The United States District Court for the District of Kansas is the federal district court whose jurisdiction is the state of Kansas. The Court operates out of the Robert J. Dole United States Courthouse in Kansas City, the Frank Carlson Federal Building in Topeka, and the United States Courthouse...

)
Resigned on December 12, 1873
8 March 2, 1876

William W. Belknap
William W. Belknap
William Worth Belknap was a United States Army general, government administrator, and United States Secretary of War. He was the only Cabinet secretary ever to have been impeached by the United States House of Representatives.-Birth and early years:Born in Newburgh, New York to career soldier...

United States Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

Acquitted after his resignation on August 1, 1876.
9 December 13, 1904
Charles Swayne
Charles Swayne
Charles H. Swayne was a United States federal judge who prevailed over an impeachment effort.Born in Guyencourt, Delaware, Swayne received an LL.B. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1871. He was in private practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1871 to 1885, and in Pensacola, Florida,...

Judge (Northern District of Florida
United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida is the federal United States district court with jurisdiction over the northern part of the state of Florida....

)
Acquitted on February 27, 1905
10 July 11, 1912
Robert W. Archbald
Robert W. Archbald
Robert Wodrow Archbald was a United States federal court judge from Pennsylvania. He was the ninth federal official on whom Articles of Impeachment were served, and only the third to be convicted and removed from office....

Associate Justice (United States Commerce Court
United States Commerce Court
The Commerce Court of the United States was a brief-lived federal trial court. It was created by the Mann-Elkins Act in 1910 and abolished a mere three years later. The Commerce Court was a specialized court, given jurisdiction over cases arising from orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission...

)
Judge (Third Circuit Court of Appeals
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts for the following districts:* District of Delaware* District of New Jersey...

)
Removed and disqualified on January 13, 1913
11 April 1, 1926
George W. English
George W. English
George Washington English, Sr. was a United States federal judge.Born near Vienna, Illinois, English received an LL.B. from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1891. He was chief deputy sheriff of Johnson County, Illinois from 1891 to 1892. He engaged in the private practice of law in Vienna, Illinois...

Judge (Eastern District of Illinois
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Illinois
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Illinois is a former federal district court for the state of Illinois. The court was established March 3, 1905, by 33 Stat. 992. The Northern and Southern Districts had been established February 13, 1855...

)
Resigned on November 4, 1926, proceedings dismissed on December 13, 1926
12 February 24, 1933
Harold Louderback
Harold Louderback
Harold Louderback was a United States District Court judge from California. He was the eleventh federal official to be served with Articles of Impeachment and was ultimately acquitted of these charges....

Judge (Northern District of California
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
The United States District Court for the Northern District of California is the federal United States district court whose jurisdiction comprises following counties of California: Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San...

)
Acquitted on May 24, 1933
13 March 2, 1936
Halsted L. Ritter
Halsted L. Ritter
Halsted Lockwood Ritter was an American lawyer and judge. He served in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida but was impeached and removed from office, only the fourth official to be removed.-Early life and education:Ritter was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1868...

Judge (Southern District of Florida
United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida is the federal United States district court with jurisdiction over the southern part of the state of Florida....

)
Removed on April 17, 1936
14 July 22, 1986
Harry E. Claiborne
Harry E. Claiborne
Harry Eugene Claiborne was a United States district court judge who was impeached for tax evasion. He was only the fifth person in U.S. history to be removed from office through impeachment by the U.S...

Judge (District of Nevada
United States District Court for the District of Nevada
The United States District Court for the District of Nevada is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction is the state of Nevada. The court has locations in Las Vegas and Reno....

)
Removed on October 9, 1986
15 August 3, 1988

Alcee Hastings
Alcee Hastings
Alcee Lamar Hastings is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1993. He is a member of the Democratic Party.-Early life, education and career:...

Judge (Southern District of Florida
United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida is the federal United States district court with jurisdiction over the southern part of the state of Florida....

)
Removed on October 20, 1989
16 May 10, 1989

Walter Nixon
Walter Nixon
Walter Louis Nixon, Jr. is a former United States federal judge who was impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office by the Senate....

 
Chief Judge (Southern District of Mississippi
United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi is a federal court in the Fifth Circuit with facilities in Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Vicksburg, and Jackson....

)
Removed on November 3, 1989
17 December 19, 1998

Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

Acquitted
Impeachment of Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton, President of the United States, was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice on December 19, 1998, but acquitted by the Senate on February 12, 1999. Two other impeachment articles, a second perjury charge and a charge of abuse of...

 on February 12, 1999
18 June 19, 2009

Samuel B. Kent
Samuel B. Kent
Samuel B. Kent was a U.S District Court judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in the single-judge Galveston Division covering Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, and Matagorda Counties. He was nominated by President George H.W...

Judge (Southern District of Texas
United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas is the Federal district court with jurisdiction over the southern part of Texas...

)
Resigned on June 30, 2009, proceedings dismissed on July 22, 2009
19 March 11, 2010

Thomas Porteous
Thomas Porteous
Gabriel Thomas Porteous, Jr. is a former United States federal judge who served for sixteen years before being impeached and removed from office in December 2010.-Background:...

Judge (Eastern District of Louisiana
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana is a federal trial court based in New Orleans. Like all U.S...

)
Removed and disqualified on December 8, 2010

Demands for impeachment


While actually impeaching a federal public official is a rare event, demands for impeachment, especially of presidents, are extremely common, going back to the administration of George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 in the mid-1790s. In fact, most of the 63 resolutions mentioned above were in response to presidential actions.

While almost all of them were for the most part frivolous and were buried as soon as they were introduced, several did have their intended effect. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas
Abe Fortas
Abraham Fortas was a U.S. Supreme Court associate justice from 1965 to 1969. Originally from Tennessee, Fortas became a law professor at Yale, and subsequently advised the Securities and Exchange Commission. He then worked at the Interior Department under Franklin D...

 both resigned in response to the threat of impeachment hearings, and, most famously, President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 resigned from office after the House Judiciary Committee had already reported articles of impeachment to the floor.

Impeachment in the states


State legislatures can impeach state officials, including governors. The court for the trial of impeachments may differ somewhat from the federal model — in New York, for instance, the Assembly (lower house) impeaches, and the State Senate tries the case, but the members of the seven-judge New York State Court of Appeals (the state's highest, constitutional court) sit with the senators as jurors as well. Impeachment and removal of governors has happened occasionally throughout the history of the United States, usually for corruption charges. A total of at least eleven U.S. state governors have faced an impeachment trial; a twelfth, Governor
Governor of Oklahoma
The governor of the state of Oklahoma is the head of state for the state of Oklahoma, United States. Under the Oklahoma Constitution, the governor is also the head of government, serving as the chief executive of the Oklahoma executive branch, of the government of Oklahoma...

 Lee Cruce
Lee Cruce
Lee Cruce was the second Governor of Oklahoma. Running against Charles N. Haskell in 1907 in the Democratic primaries, Lee would not receive the party's nomination for Oklahoma's first Governor...

 of Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, escaped impeachment conviction by a single vote in 1912. Several others, most recently Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

's John G. Rowland
John G. Rowland
John Grosvenor Rowland was the 86th Governor of Connecticut from 1995 to 2004; he is a member of the Republican Party. He is married to Patty Rowland, his second wife, and the couple have five children between them...

, have resigned rather than face impeachment, when events seemed to make it inevitable. The most recent impeachment of a governor occurred on January 14, 2009, when the Illinois House of Representatives
Illinois House of Representatives
The Illinois House of Representatives is the lower house of the Illinois General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Illinois. The body was created by the first Illinois Constitution adopted in 1818. The state House of Representatives is made of 118 representatives elected from...

 voted 117-1 to impeach Rod Blagojevich
Rod Blagojevich
Rod R. Blagojevich is an American politician who served as the 40th Governor of Illinois from 2003 to 2009. A Democrat, Blagojevich was a State Representative before being elected to the United States House of Representatives representing parts of Chicago...

 on corruption charges
Rod Blagojevich corruption charges
Rod Blagojevich, former Governor of Illinois, is an American politician under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2005 for corruption. Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff John Harris were charged with corruption by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald...

; he was subsequently removed from office and barred from holding future office by the Illinois Senate
Illinois Senate
The Illinois Senate is the upper chamber of the Illinois General Assembly, the legislative branch of the government of the state of Illinois in the United States. The body was created by the first state constitution adopted in 1818. The Illinois Senate is made up of 59 senators elected from...

 on January 29. He was the eighth state governor in American history to be removed from office.

The procedure for impeachment, or removal, of local officials varies widely. For instance, in New York a mayor is removed directly by the governor "upon being heard" on charges — the law makes no further specification of what charges are necessary or what the governor must find in order to remove a mayor.

State officials impeached

Date Accused Office Result
1804 William W. Irvin
William W. Irvin
William W. Irvin also spelled Irwin was a lawyer, farmer, politician, and U.S. Representative from Ohio....

Associate Judge
Associate Justice
Associate Justice or Associate Judge is the title for a member of a judicial panel who is not the Chief Justice in some jurisdictions. The title "Associate Justice" is used for members of the United States Supreme Court and some state supreme courts, and for some other courts in Commonwealth...

, Fairfield County, Ohio
Fairfield County, Ohio
Fairfield County is a county located in the state of Ohio, United States. As of 2010, the population was 146,156. Its county seat is Lancaster. Its name is a reference to the Fairfield area of the original Lancaster....

 Court of Common Pleas
Removed
1832 Theophilus W. Smith
Theophilus W. Smith
Theophilus Washington Smith was an Illinois Supreme Court Justice from 1825 until his resignation on December 26, 1842. He holds the distinction of being the subject of Illinois's first impeachment trial, held in 1833....

Associate Justice
Associate Justice
Associate Justice or Associate Judge is the title for a member of a judicial panel who is not the Chief Justice in some jurisdictions. The title "Associate Justice" is used for members of the United States Supreme Court and some state supreme courts, and for some other courts in Commonwealth...

, Illinois Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Illinois
The Supreme Court of Illinois is the state supreme court of Illinois. The court's authority is granted in Article VI of the current Illinois Constitution, which provides for seven justices elected from the five appellate judicial districts of the state: Three justices from the First District and...

Acquitted
February 26, 1862 Charles L. Robinson
Charles L. Robinson
Charles Lawrence Robinson was the first Governor of Kansas. He was also the first governor of a US state to be impeached, although he was not convicted or removed from office. To date he is the only governor of Kansas to be impeached...

Governor of Kansas
Governor of Kansas
The Governor of the State of Kansas is the head of state for the State of Kansas, United States. Under the Kansas Constitution, the Governor is also the head of government, serving as the chief executive of the Kansas executive branch, of the government of Kansas. The Governor is the...

Acquitted
February 26, 1862 John Winter Robinson Secretary of State of Kansas
Secretary of State of Kansas
The Secretary of State of Kansas is one of the constitutional officers of the U.S. state of Kansas.-History:The first Secretary of State for Kansas was John Winter Robinson, a physician from Manhattan, Kansas...

Removed on June 12, 1862
February 26, 1862 George S. Hillyer Kansas State Auditor Removed on June 16, 1862
1871 William Woods Holden
William Woods Holden
William Woods Holden was the 38th and 40th Governor of North Carolina in 1865 and from 1868 to 1871. He was the leader of the state's Republican Party during Reconstruction. Holden was the second governor in American history to be impeached, and the first to be removed from office...

Governor of North Carolina
Governor of North Carolina
The Governor of North Carolina is the chief executive of the State of North Carolina, one of the U.S. states. The current governor is Bev Perdue, North Carolina's first female governor.-Powers:...

Removed
1871 David Butler
David Butler (Nebraska)
David C. Butler was a U.S. political figure. He was the first Governor of Nebraska, serving from 1867 until 1871...

Governor of Nebraska
Governor of Nebraska
The Governor of Nebraska holds the "supreme executive power" of the State of Nebraska as provided by the fourth article of the Nebraska Constitution. The current Governor is Dave Heineman, a Republican, who assumed office on January 20, 2005 upon the resignation of Mike Johanns . He won a full...

Removed
1872 Henry C. Warmoth
Henry C. Warmoth
Henry Clay Warmoth was the 23rd Governor of Louisiana from 1868 until his impeachment and removal from office in December, 1872.-Early life and military career:...

Governor of Louisiana "suspended from office," though trial was not held
1876 Adelbert Ames
Adelbert Ames
Adelbert Ames was an American sailor, soldier, and politician. He served with distinction as a Union Army general during the American Civil War. As a Radical Republican and a Carpetbagger, he was military governor, Senator and civilian governor in Reconstruction-era Mississippi...

Governor of Mississippi Resigned
1888 James W. Tate Kentucky State Treasurer
Kentucky State Treasurer
The Kentucky State Treasurer is elected every 4 years. The treasurer, who can serve two terms, acts as the state's chief elected fiscal officer. The salary of the state treasurer is $110,000 a year...

Removed
August 13, 1913 William Sulzer
William Sulzer
William Sulzer was an American lawyer and politician, nicknamed Plain Bill Sulzer. He was the 39th Governor of New York and a long-serving congressman from the same state. He was the first and so far only New York Governor to be impeached...

Governor of New York Removed on October 17, 1913
1917 James E. Ferguson
James E. Ferguson
James Edward "Pa" Ferguson, Jr. , was a Democratic politician from the state of Texas.- Early life :Ferguson was born to the Reverend James Ferguson, Sr., and Fannie Ferguson near Salado in south Bell County, Texas. He entered Salado College at age twelve but was eventually expelled for...

Governor of Texas Removed
October 23, 1923 John C. Walton
John C. Walton
John Calloway “Jack” Walton was an American politician and the fifth Governor of Oklahoma. Walton would serve the shortest term of any Governor of Oklahoma, being the first Governor in the state’s history to be removed from office.-Early life:John Calloway Walton was born on March 6, 1881, in...

Governor of Oklahoma
Governor of Oklahoma
The governor of the state of Oklahoma is the head of state for the state of Oklahoma, United States. Under the Oklahoma Constitution, the governor is also the head of government, serving as the chief executive of the Oklahoma executive branch, of the government of Oklahoma...

Removed
January 21, 1929 Henry S. Johnston
Henry S. Johnston
Henry Simpson Johnston was an American lawyer and politician who served as a delegate to the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention, the first President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate, and the seventh Governor of Oklahoma...

Governor of Oklahoma
Governor of Oklahoma
The governor of the state of Oklahoma is the head of state for the state of Oklahoma, United States. Under the Oklahoma Constitution, the governor is also the head of government, serving as the chief executive of the Oklahoma executive branch, of the government of Oklahoma...

Removed
April 6, 1929 Huey P. Long Governor of Louisiana Acquitted
February 6, 1988 Evan Mecham
Evan Mecham
Evan Mecham was the 17th Governor of Arizona. A decorated veteran of World War II, Mecham earned his living as an automotive dealership owner and occasional newspaper publisher...

Governor of Arizona Removed on April 5, 1988
March 30, 1989 A. James Manchin
A. James Manchin
Antonio James Manchin I — known as A. James Manchin — was a West Virginia Democratic politician who served as a member of the House of Delegates , as Secretary of State , and as State Treasurer . A colorful and controversial figure, he was the uncle of former West Virginia Governor and current U.S...

West Virginia State Treasurer Resigned on July 9, 1989 before trial started
May 24, 1994 Rolf Larsen
Rolf Larsen
Rolf Larsen a Democrat originally from Allegheny County, was first elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1978.In 1981, a public feud between Larsen and Justice Robert N. C. Nix, Jr. took on racial undertones when newspapers reported that Larsen allegedly threatened to publicize the fact...

Associate Justice
Associate Justice
Associate Justice or Associate Judge is the title for a member of a judicial panel who is not the Chief Justice in some jurisdictions. The title "Associate Justice" is used for members of the United States Supreme Court and some state supreme courts, and for some other courts in Commonwealth...

, Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the court of last resort for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It meets in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.-History:...

Removed on October 4, 1994, and declared ineligible to hold public office in Pennsylvania
October 6, 1994 Judith Moriarty
Judith Moriarty
Judith K. Moriarty is an American politician from Missouri. She was the first woman to serve as Missouri Secretary of State....

Secretary of State of Missouri Removed by the Missouri Supreme Court on December 12, 1994
November 11, 2004 Kathy Augustine
Kathy Augustine
Kathy Marie Alfano Augustine was a U.S. Republican Party politician from Nevada. She served in the Nevada Assembly and in the Nevada Senate...

Nevada State Controller Censured on December 4, 2004, not removed from office
January 8, 2009 Rod Blagojevich
Rod Blagojevich
Rod R. Blagojevich is an American politician who served as the 40th Governor of Illinois from 2003 to 2009. A Democrat, Blagojevich was a State Representative before being elected to the United States House of Representatives representing parts of Chicago...

Governor of Illinois 95th General Assembly ended
January 14, 2009 Removed
Rod Blagojevich corruption charges
Rod Blagojevich, former Governor of Illinois, is an American politician under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2005 for corruption. Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff John Harris were charged with corruption by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald...

 on January 29, 2009, and declared ineligible to hold public office in Illinois


See also


  • Censure in the United States
    Censure in the United States
    In the United States, a motion of censure is a congressional procedure for reprimanding the President of the United States, a member of Congress, or a judge. Unlike impeachment, in the United States censure has no explicit basis in the federal constitution. It derives from the formal condemnation...

  • Jefferson's Manual
    Jefferson's Manual
    Manual of Parliamentary Practice for the Use of the Senate of the United States, written by Thomas Jefferson in 1801, is the first American book on parliamentary procedure. As vice-president of the United States, Jefferson served as the Senate's presiding officer from 1797 to 1801...

  • Impeachment investigations of United States federal officials
    Impeachment investigations of United States federal officials
    Numerous federal officials in the United States have been threatened with impeachment and removal from office. Most have not got very far, but were quite controversial in their time. Below is a summary of those few which actually were introduced in Congress....

  • Impeachment investigations of United States federal judges
  • List of federal political scandals in the United States
  • Recall election
    Recall election
    A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before his or her term has ended...