In late 1998, the 105th United States House of Representatives voted to impeach President Bill Clinton. But, argues constitutional scholar Bruce Ackerman, their bill of impeachment expired along with all the other legislation left unresolved when their terms expired on January 3, 1999, as per the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution--thus rendering the impeachment trial in the Senate unconstitutional.
Ackerman concisely outlines the arguments against letting the lameduck impeachment stand; he is particularly strong in his presentation of the historical background behind the creation of the Twentieth Amendment, which was specifically crafted to limit the power of representatives and senators already voted out of office and waiting for their terms to expire. And, importantly, this is not a partisan analysis: "More is at stake here than the fate of William Jefferson Clinton. If this lameduck impeachment is allowed to go forward ... we will be inadvertently creating a precedent that will destabilize the presidency for a very long time to come."
About the Author
BRUCE ACKERMAN is one of America's leading political philosophers and constitutional lawyers.