Here’s a legal definition:
You are correct; I’m surprised anyone could read it differently. I’m also surprised that there is no comeback: if your party has a majority, why not just start impeachment proceedings anyway? Here in the U.K., the Prime Minister is still subject to ordinary law, and if defied by the Commons can go to the country - forcing a general election.
Because your party will quickly lose its majority. The US electorate doesn’t really like uncertainty and impeaching a president makes thing very uncertain. And if you succeed all you’re going to do is get the President’s hand picked successor. More than likely you’ll lose (because you need 2/3 of the Senate to convict and even the biggest majorities rarely reach that) and you look like a bunch of incompetent, partisan hacks.
Impeachment is the last resort of all last resorts. It was not designed as a political move but as a way for truly dangerous, criminal, or incompetent office holders to be safely removed without a coup. Otherwise, as with Clinton, it was indeed seen as an attempt at a coup and quickly backfired.
Impeachment is not the same as a lack of confidence vote. How many actual coups has the U.K. parliament had? What would be the result if a party attempted a coup for purely partisan political reasons?
To answer your question literally, there is no “penalty”. However, you must stand for re-election. In NJ12, Mike Pappas literally sung the praises of Ken Starr on the House floor in July 1998 in honor of his 52nd birthday. Pappas lost his re-election bid 5 months later.
Congressmen who advanced an ultimately losing impeachment can lose re-election. If they damage the party enough their committee assignments can be re-examined. Party offices (Speaker, Whips, Committee Chairmanships) can be lost. And in some cases, their party can decide to support someone else for re-election.
If it’s the President on trial, the Chief Justice presides. The VP presides otherwise. Remember that originally the Pres and VP were the two highest vote-getters, not a prefab ticket. The VP would have been severely tempted to put his thumb on the scale and take the top spot, since it would have been his in the first place if not for the guy who won.
I would imagine that if the VP is impeached, then the CJ would preside then too. However, this isn’t explicitly stated.
I’d only expect the VP to show up if it was a really high-profile case. There was a boring impeachment of a judge a few years ago and Biden let Daniel Inouye (the president pro tempore) preside over the trial.
This is a misunderstanding. Impeachment is the balance (and the check) to abuse of office, not to the regular powers of the government. That’s why the Constitution limits impeachment to “civil officers” and specifies that the penalty for conviction can only be removal from office and disqualification from future office.
Weird, I looked at the text of the Constitution to make sure I was getting it right. What the heck did I see?
Depends on where you were looking. Article II (pertaining to the Executive), Section 4 gives a short&sweet paragraph saying that civil officers can be impeached.
But Article I (pertaining to the Legislature), Section 3, Clause 6, outlines the Congressional and Senatorial power of impeachment and conviction, and specifies the Chief Justice for Presidential impeachment proceedings.
18th Century writing style, that distracted you so you skipped a paragraph?
Notice BTW that the Constitution talks about “two thirds of the members present”, not two thirds of all the sitting members (those duly elected, sworn, unexpelled and alive). I must suppose there must still be a quorum.
Note that the Constitution defines a quorum as a majority, so it would be possible to convict with only about ONE-THIRD of the full Senate present. Total membership, 100; quorum, 51; 2/3 of 51, 34.
No, the Chief Justice can only president if the President is on trial. So in theory the Vice-President could insist on presiding over his own trial, but that would likely backfire horribly. Unlike the relationship between a judge & jury in a criminal trial the Senate can override any procedural ruling during the trial by a majority vote. They could even decide to skip the whole trial part and just immediately vote to remove him from office without even bothering hear evidence.
And a very good one at that.
I doubt that would ever happen.
Can the American people overrule an impeachment? As I mentioned upthread, a U.K. Prime Minister can force a General Election if he or she loses a vote of Confidence.
As has been pointed out, removal of a president requires not just a simple majority (in the House) but also a super-majority of two-thirds in the Senate. It would be extremely rare for a sitting president not to have more than 1/3 of the Senate belonging to his party.
Importantly, removing a President on purely political grounds would generally be seen by the public as thwarting the will of the voters. Even if Congress was in the hands of the opposite party, the President was popularly elected. It’s also politically pointless since the Vice President and the Cabinet would still be in the hands of the other party.
The same principle holds with the President’s appointments to the Cabinet and the Supreme Court. A Congress in the hands of the opposition could in theory completely cripple the administration by refusing to approve any of the President’s nominees. In practice, an opposition congress will approve Presidential nominees unless there is some major objection or they are viewed as too extreme politically. (By the same token, a President will try to avoid appointing anyone who will provoke strong opposition).
And of course there’s the “what goes around comes around” principle. If you play this game with the other party, you’ll be liable for retaliation if the situation is reversed.
It’s a bit late for that: Clinton was impeached, the Democrats talked a lot about impeaching Bush, and the Republicans talked a lot about impeaching Obama.