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Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide Paperback – October 30, 2017
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With insight, wisdom, affection, and concern, Sunstein has written the story of impeachment every citizen needs to know. This is a remarkable, essential book. (Doris Kearns Goodwin)
Thoroughly grounded in constitutional history and past practice…Excellent. (Noah Feldman and Jacob Weisberg New York Review of Books 2017-09-28)
A compact, concise, and highly relevant civics lesson. There have been a number of books published about impeachment, many of them partisan manifestoes. What makes Sunstein’s book of such great interest is its lack of fanfare and knife‐sharpening. The author is a learned and accessible guide as he maneuvers his way through the history of democracy’s nuclear option…A welcome, timely, ideal primer. (Kirkus Reviews 2017-10-01)
Sunstein is well positioned to provide this balanced and timely overview of the role of impeachment in American democracy…An essential guide to understanding impeachment’s function within the ‘constitutional system as a whole’ and a persuasive argument that the impeachment clause places ‘the fate of the republic’ in the hands of its citizenry. (Publishers Weekly 2017-09-11)
Offers a highly accessible, brilliantly thoughtful, and politically neutral analysis of what the Constitution means for our present moment and for generations that follow. (Ryan Goodman Just Security 2017-10-23)
Sunstein has written a concise, enlightening, and argumentative history and guide to getting rid of presidents…It’s more of a why-to and when-to, and a what-were-they-thinking-when-they-decided-to kind of book. Sunstein delves into the writings, speeches, and deliberations of America’s revolutionary generation. (Carlos Lozada Washington Post 2017-11-10)
Explains the historical origins of the impeachment concept, and offers a checklist as to when the principle might be applied…Now, more than ever, cool heads are needed to safeguard the U.S. Republic: thank goodness for this book―and its handy impeachment checklist. (Gillian Tett Financial Times 2017-11-10)
Sunstein’s goal was to lay out a legal and historical framework for thinking about impeachment, independent of any specific president. I’ve been thinking about the topic a lot since finishing the book, and I want to recommend [it]…[It’s a] careful history of impeachment―of when the founders believed it was appropriate and necessary. (David Leonhardt New York Times 2017-11-30)
The book is a tribute to the Founding Fathers’ wisdom in providing for a remedy in case someone who is vicious, lawless and unfit should somehow end up in power. (Scott McLemee Inside Higher Ed 2017-12-08)
About the Author
Cass R. Sunstein is Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard University.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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The book has ten chapters, the first of which lays some background for impeachment under the constitution and ends with a brilliant section on neutrality and offers three questions one can ask to see if they are trying to be impartial. The non-partisan tone of the book is very refreshing and sets an example other writers should aspire to replicate.
The second chapter centers around the theme of the differences between a king and a president and how the founders developed the checks to keep the executive from turning into a monarch.
Chapters three and four show the evolution of what constituted grounds for impeachment and how it would play out.
Chapter five takes a brief interlude to survey the modern concepts of interpretation of the constitution and makes the case that, when it comes to impeachment, originalism is the only framework that makes sense.
Chapter six builds upon the framework of chapter five and delves into the actual articles of impeachment against Nixon and Clinton highlighting where they are strongest and weakest.
Chapter seven provides twenty-one hypothetical test cases and how the author thinks they would turn out if proper procedures were followed. This covers most possibilities that could arise and is fascinating reading.
Chapter eight covers the twenty-fifth amendment and how it is profoundly misunderstood.
Chapter nine is all questions and answers about what every citizen should know. This chapter combined with number seven provides a terrific reference for almost any question that might arise.
The final chapter is a brief plea to keep the republic.
There are eighteen pages of scholarly footnotes for further reading and all necessary sources are cited.
Highly recommended for these confused times.
It's sometimes difficult to make your way through the flower beds of words to get one point across accurately, moreso from the 1700s and 1800s documents. Cass does a good job of summing up each paragraph, not always blatantly. Still, sometimes hard to comprehend if you're not used to these things. Maybe I just need to regulate my reading pace.
While "Impeachment: A Citizen's Guide" does not mention Trump by name, it provides a concise and lucid introduction to the history and significance of the constitutional provision for impeaching presidents and other civil officers of the United States. Particular strengths of Sunstein's presentation include how he identifies impeachment as a prime constitutional remedy for presidential despotism and his examination of the crucial constitutional phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors." A helpful book, small in size, "Impeachment" would make a great stocking stuffer for the holiday season.
Sunstein opens with Benjamin Franklin's celebrated response to the question of what sort of government he and the other framers of the Constitution had constructed: "A republic, if you can keep it." Near the end of the book, he cites a warning from Felix Frankfurter: "the greatest menace to freedom of speech is an inert people." Between these quotations, Sunstein labors wisely and well to rouse Americans from inertia so that we may always keep the republic entrusted to our care.