Sunday, September 5, 2010
The principle for discussion on this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.3.6: "The Senate shall have the exclusive power to hear impeachment proceedings which the House of Representatives has brought against any judge or executive official of the government." After the House of Representatives votes to impeach, the Senate then holds a trial to decide whether or not a member of the executive or judicial branch of the government should be removed from office. This responsibility is given to the Senate because Senators are not in office for life and a large number of Senators could be free from influence from a President. Senators are also given this responsibility to remove judges from office because they are part of the procedure of appointing judges. The Chief Justice was selected as the one to preside over a trial of the President because a Vice President would have too much to gain from the removal of the President and might unduly influence the Senators. The Founders also thought it would be improper for the Supreme Court to have the responsibility to impeach a President because the justices are appointed by the President. The threat of impeachment, trial, and removal from office upon conviction of treason, bribery, or other serious crimes keeps the President and other members of the executive and judicial branches under scrutiny.