Ben Franklin’s Better Way of Removing 'Obnoxious' Presidents
The impeachment process in U.S. government was first suggested by Benjamin Franklin during the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Noting that the traditional mechanism for removing “obnoxious” chief executives — like kings — from power had been assassination, Franklin glibly suggested the impeachment process as a more rational and preferable method.
Impeachment Process Fast Facts
The process of impeachment is established by the U.S. Constitution.
The impeachment process must be initiated in the House of Representatives with the passage of a resolution listing the charges or “Articles of Impeachment” against the official being impeached.
If passed by the House, the Articles of Impeachment are considered by the Senate in a trial presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, with the 100 Senators serving as the jury.
If the Senate votes in favor of conviction by a 2/3 supermajority vote (67 votes), the Senate will then vote to remove the official from office.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the President of the United States, the Vice President, and “and all civil Officers of the United States” may be impeached and removed from office if convicted of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The Constitution also establishes the impeachment process.
Presidential impeachment may be the last thing you would ever think could happen in America. In fact, since 1841, over one-third of all American Presidents have either died in office, became disabled, or resigned. However, no American President has ever been forced from office due to impeachment.
Only four times in our history has Congress held serious discussions of presidential impeachment: