Impeachment: Trials and Errors

By Irving Brant | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
THE REMEDY

IN THE DREAM WORLD of Senators Borah, La Follette, Frazier, and Shipstead, high-minded senators were to exercise a benevolent protectorate over the judiciary by removing judges for anything that tended to bring the judiciary into disrepute. On April 15, 1970, Minority Leader Gerald Ford transmuted their words into the reality of partisan politics with an accurate paraphrase of their dictum:

"What, then, is an impeachable offense? The only honest answer is that an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history; conviction results from whatever offense or offenses two-thirds of the other body considers to be sufficiently serious to require the removal of the accused from office."

In short, by a sequence of four stretching operations between 1912 and 1936, the words "high crimes and misdemeanors" -- the only constitutional grounds of removal from office -- had been converted into the system James Madison

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