REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE AND STUDIES
In its broadest sense, impeachment is the process by which public officials may be removed from office on the basis of their conduct. Strictly speaking, it is the decision by a legislature to accuse an official of one or more offenses that warrant removal according to constitutional standards. A vote to impeach then triggers a trial based on those charges. The most famous impeachment proceedings have involved presidents, but every state has its own procedures. Most follow the federal model in general, but vary widely in their specifics.
At the federal level, impeachment starts in the House of Representatives, where members may initiate resolutions to impeach a sitting president. The House Judiciary Committee decides if a resolution merits a formal impeachment inquiry. A simple majority vote in the full House can launch a formal inquiry. The House Judiciary Committee conducts an investigation to determine if allegations against a president warrant charges, or articles of impeachment.
If a simple majority of the full House votes to charge a president with at least one article of impeachment, that indictment will move to the Senate for trial. At that point, the president has been "impeached" by the House. House members act as or appoint congressional prosecutors. The chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the trial in the Senate chamber. A two-thirds vote is required to convict and remove from office.
The U.S. Constitution states that, "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 Misdemeanours." (Article II, Section ).
The House of Representatives has impeached two Presidents: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Johnson was charged in 1868 with eight articles of impeachment, but was acquitted by a single vote in the Senate trial (depicted in the above engraving). Bill Clinton was charged with four articles of impeachment by the House in 1998, but was acquitted by the Senate early the next year. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before a final vote in the full House could send him to trial on three articles of impeachment.
Each state constitution outlines a unique impeachment procedure, including variations on the list of impeachable offenses, protocol for an impeachment trial and the body responsible for an initial investigation.
According to the Associated Press, seven governors in U.S. history have been removed from office following impeachment proceedings. The National Conference of State Legislatures said that a longer list would include states that have investigated governors for alleged offenses, voted to impeach a governor ahead of a trial, or held trials that resulted in acquittal. The only governor to be removed from office in the last 80 years was Gov. Evan Mecham of Arizona, who was convicted in 1988 of obstructing justice and misusing $80,000 in state money that he was charged with funnelling to his car dealership to keep it afloat.
In January 2008, the Illinois House of Representatives voted 114-1 to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich for abuse of power in connection with the federal investigation that had led to his arrest the month before. Mr. Blagojevich was charged with trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama and with seeking to extort campaign contributions in return for official actions, including providing reimbursement to a hospital.
Following the process that has been generally adopted by state legislatures in recent decades, the Illinois House created a special investigative committee, which made a recommendation in favor of impeachment to the entire body.
In all states except Alaska, Nebraska and Oregon, the House votes on articles of impeachment ahead of a trial. In Alaska, the process is reversed, according to The Book of States. That state's Senate must...