We must never forget that it is a[n eighteenth-century] constitution we are expounding.
Presidential impeachment and removal from office undoes the result of the last presidential election. So much is indubitably true. What is not true is that the Framers of the Constitution necessarily understood this to mean a rejection of the people's choice. The Constitution's Executive Article, Article II, proceeds in logical order: Section 1 concerns the election of the President, Section 2 the President's powers, Section 3 the President's relations with Congress, and Section 4 the President's impeachment and removal from office. Section 4 is, in other words, the negative analog of Section 1; the election of the President and the President's removal from office are the brackets that enclose the substance of the Executive Article. The architecture of the Constitution, therefore, suggests that something about the original understanding of presidential impeachment and removal may be learned from an examination of the process of presidential election.
The American President has never, of course, been directly elected by the people. Rather, the President is elected by "electors" chosen by the states: "Each state shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress...."(1) The electors meet in their respective states and vote for two persons, one of whom at least must not be an inhabitant of the same state.(2) According to the original plan, the person with the …