Blog: Judicial Impeachment as a Check on Courts Is Constitutional

111002075249-supreme-court-building-story-topIn a guest blog for the Washington Post, Michael S. Paulsen, co-author of The Constitution: An Introduction delves into his analysis of the power of Congress to impeach other officials, specifically federal judges. He explains:

“By implication, at least, our book takes a more charitable view of impeachment than of either court-terminating or court-packing as a check against (believed) judicial lawlessness. Impeachment of judges for perceived deliberate abuse of office by their lawless decisions — ‘a series of deliberate usurpations’ in violation of their oaths — is directed (as the impeachment inquiry properly should be) at individual culpability, not institutional capability. That is more constitutionally defensible in principle, even if it has fairly obviously troubling implications and (like all powers and checks) is capable of being abused.”

Paulsen offers a stronger conclusion for the blog than is found in the book. “I would hazard the view,” he says, “that the use of the impeachment power as a check against interpretative abuses by other branches, is, where applied in good faith by a responsible Congress, fully consistent with the broad scope of discretion afforded by the language of the Constitution’s impeachment standard (‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’) and also with Article III’s specific textual protections for judicial independence by providing for life tenure.”