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Nixon v. United States- Impeachment non-justiciable

t Rehnquist1993. This case strongly indicates that most controversies relating to impeachment will be found to fall within the “committed to other branches” category and thus to be non-justiciablepolitical questions.

t Facts. After Judge Nixon was convicted of making a false statement to a federal grand jury, he was impeached by the House. Instead of trying him before the entire Senate, however, Senate referred the articles of impeachment to a committee, which then reported to the full Senate, which did not itself take any evidence. Nixon was convicted by the full Senate, and sought judicial reviewof the manner in which the Senate tried him.

t Argument. Nixon argued that the Senate, by having a committee rather than the full Senate hear the evidence, violated the requirement of Article I, §3, Clause 6that the Senate “try all impeachments.”

t Held non-justiciable. But the SCt held that Nixon’s argument presented a non-justiciable political question. SCt’s argument seemed to be that, because impeachment is a check on the judiciary, the judiciary ought not to review it.

n SCt relied mainly on the plain text of the Senate ImpeachmentClause, which provides that “the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.” SCt interpreted this reference to “sole Power,” along with the history behind the provision, to mean that the Senate, not the courts, should determine what procedures could validly constitute a “trial.”

n The SCt also reasoned that a “lack of finality” problem dictated that the courts not hear Nixon’s claim: “Opening the door of judicial reviewto the procedures used by the Senate in trying impeachments would ‘expose the political life of the country to months, or perhaps years of chaos,’” especially if it were the President who was being impeached.

t Concurrence.

n White. Thought the matter was jusiticiable, but that Nixon lost on the merits.

n Souter. Also concurred, but thought that in an extreme case judicial interference might be appropriate.


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 337


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