Impeachment Clauses

Document 8

Luther Martin, Genuine Information

1788Storing 2.4.87--88

It was further observed, that the only appearance of responsibility in the President, which the system holds up to our view, is the provision for impeachment; but that when we reflect that he cannot be impeached but by the house of delegates, and that the members of this house are rendered dependant upon, and unduly under the influence of the President, by being appointable to offices of which he has the sole nomination, so that without his favour and approbation, they cannot obtain them, there is little reason to believe, that a majority will ever concur in impeaching the President, let his conduct be ever so reprehensible, especially too, as the final event of that impeachment will depend upon a different body, and the members of the house of delegates will be certain, should the decision be ultimately in favour of the President, to become thereby the objects of his displeasure, and to bar to themselves every avenue to the emoluments of government.

Should he, contrary to probability, be impeached, he is afterwards to be tried and adjudged by the senate, and without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members who shall be present, he cannot be convicted--This senate being constituted a privy council to the President, it is probable many of its leading and influential members may have advised or concurred in the very measures for which he may be impeached; the members of the Senate also are by the system, placed as unduly under the influence of, and dependant upon the President, as the members of the other branch, since they also are appointable to offices, and cannot obtain them but through the favour of the President--There will be great, important and valuable offices under this government, should it take place, more than sufficient to enable him to hold out the expectation of one of them to each of the senators--Under these circumstances, will any person conceive it to be difficult for the President always to secure to himself more than one-third of that body? Or, can it reasonably be believed, that a criminal will be convicted, who is constitutionally empowered to bribe his judges, at the head of whom is to preside on those occasions the chief Justice. Which officer in his original appointment, must be nominated by the President, and will therefore, probably, be appointed [not] so much for his eminence in legal knowledge and for his integrity, as from favouritism and influence, since the President knowing that in case of impeachment the chief Justice is to preside at his trial, will naturally wish to fill that office with a person of whose voice and influence he shall consider himself secure. These are reasons to induce a belief, that there will be but little probability of the President ever being either impeached or convicted; but it was also urged, that vested with the powers which the system gives him, and with the influence attendant upon those powers, to him it would be of little consequence whether he was impeached or convicted, since he will be able to set both at defiance. These considerations occasioned a part of the convention to give a negative to this part of the system establishing the executive as it is now offered for our acceptance.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 2, Impeachment Clauses, Document 8
The University of Chicago Press

Storing, Herbert J., ed. The Complete Anti-Federalist. 7 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

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