March 12, 2013
The Bill Clinton Scandal
The Constitution of the United States outlines the fundamental government and laws of the country. Its main purpose is to establish separation of powers in order to protect the people from unfair rule. A means of protecting the United States from a corrupt executive leader is outlined in the sections detailing with grounds for and actions to be taken in the case of impeachment of a civil officer of government for crimes committed while they are serving in office. Thus far, there have only been two instances of impeachment by the House of Representatives of a President (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton). In both of these cases the Senate deemed them not guilty. Taking a closer look at the alleged wrongdoings of former president Bill Clinton, is it fair to say that he should have been removed from office? A glimpse into U.S history and the fundamental laws of on impeachment may shed a light on the answer to this question.
The United State's Constitution provides a means for protecting the people. After being under British rule for so many years, the people of the U.S didn't want to be under political rule that mirrored a monarchy in any way. The basis goal of the constitution is to protect the liberty and equality of the people. The first branch of government mentioned in the document is the legislative branch (Article I). Because the legislative branch represents the people and is mentioned first, it reaffirms the importance of the service to the citizens of the U.S as number one priority. The House of Representatives is established as the body that has "the sole power of impeachment" (US Const. art. I, sec. 2, cl. 5. Print). Later, the Senate is given the power to "try all impeachments" (US Const. art. I, sec. 2, cl. 6. Print). Two thirds of the members of the Senate must be in agreement that the President is guilty in order to remove him from office. Also, according to the document, the Senate's power in conviction ends at removing him from office, and thus does not extend to punishing him for his crime in any other way (US Const. art. I, sec. 2, cl. 7. Print). As per Article 2, containing information on the executive branch, "the President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office of impeachment for, and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." (US Const. art. II, sec. 4, Print). In addition, in Article 3 detailing the Judicial branch, the notion that all crimes shall be tried by jury does not apply to impeachment. This is later noted in Alexander Hamilton's federalist papers.
In 2 of Alexander Hamilton's federalist papers, he discusses impeachment in great length. In paper #55 he argues for the Senate being the judge in trials of impeachment. In the beginning of the paper he openly admits that having political bodies in court increases the chance for politically motivated trials of public officials but still thinks the Senate is the best option. Hamilton worries that if the body making up the court were elected periodically then there is much room for bias in the court. This would be due to the fact that the public may be divided on the terms of the impeachment and this can cause a separation in society that can play a role in decision of the court. Hamilton refers to British history and government when arguing for the power of the Senate, stating that we took their ideas regarding the House of Representatives being the ones that bring about the impeachment and the Senate being the deciding factor. His main argument against the Supreme Court trying the accused was the fact that in instances the accused are found guilty, they would also be the same body trying the guilty for their crimes. This takes away the guilty party's right to an independent second trial. Even adding a jury to the trial wouldn't fair he claims because they are partially influenced by the judge....
Please join StudyMode to read the full document