Author Allan Lichtman discussed the process for impeachment and trial as well as the consequences of this process.
In the Constitution, the Congress is given the sole power of impeachment and removing the President and all civil officers from office. This power of Legislative Branch provides a significant check over the Executive and Judicial Branches. This lesson provides explanations of the Constitutional basis of the power, the process for removing officials and the history of impeachments and removing these officials from office. It also provides discussions on the standards of impeachments and how those are interpreted by Congress.
Have the students answer the following question before beginning the lesson.
As a class or individually, have the students view the video clip below and answer the questions associated with it. Students can use the Power of Impeachment handout to answer the questions throughout the lesson. Review the students' responses to clarify any misconceptions before continuing with the lesson.
Handout: Power of Impeachment handout (Google Doc)
Video Clip 1: Introduction to Impeachment (1:21)
Have the students use the handout to answer the questions associated with each clip.
Video Clip 2: The Constitutional Convention and the Power of Impeachment (1:07)
Video Clip 3: High Crimes and Misdemeanors (1:49)
Video Clip 4: Impeachable Offenses (1:54)
Video Clip 5: The Process of Impeachment (1:51)
Video Clip 6: Historical Impeachments of the President (1:27)
Video Clip 7: The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson (3:27)
Video Clip 8: The Impeachment of President Bill Clinton (4:20)
Video Clip 9: Senate Trial of President Bill Clinton (1:47)
Present the following text of the Constitution to the students:
"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 Misdemeanors."
Using the information from the videos and the text of the Constitution, have the students debate which specific offenses should fall under impeachable offenses. Have them debate the following question:
As an exit slip have the students answer the following question.
Historical Impeachment Trials- Research the events in the Johnson or Clinton impeachment trials. Based on your standards of impeachment determine if the offenses by either Presidents Johnson or Clinton met the standard of "high crimes and misdemeanors."
Additional Writing Prompts-
The principle of checks and balances prevents one branch of government from becoming too powerful. Examples of checks and balances include vetoing of bill, ratifying treating, judicial review and others. This lesson provides video clips with examples and explanations of checks and balances.
Author Cass Sunstein discussed the 25th Amendment and the process of determining that a president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office. Mr. Sunstein was a lawyer during the Ronald Reagan administration and recounts his experiences with the 25th Amendment during the assassination attempt.
Federal Judge Thomas Porteous is found guilty of all four impeachment articles by the Senate.