United States

Impeachment clauses and the different meanings of ‘constitution’ in the United States of America

The purpose of the present article is not to review all the aspects of executive accountability in the United States. Rather, I will attempt to make a few steps towards a better understanding of the removal procedure applicable, among others, to the President of the United States and that is commonly termed “impeachment”. Besides, impeachment is so central to the constitution that it commands the overall interpretation of the accountability of the US President. From this standpoint impeachment exerts both an attractive and an inhibitive effect. It is attractive because the political will to bring the President to account must generally fit into the mould of impeachment. It is inhibitive because impeachment has such solemnity, such gravity about it that it is not an instrument for everyday use. Attempts to inflict lesser sanctions or disapprobation on the President are halted by that solemnity and that gravity. From a dogmatic standpoint, all of that is capture in the fact that impeachment is approached by lawyers as a procedure of an exceptional nature.