A Fabulous Legal Argument

dumb and dumber

The White House Counsel has argued that the House impeachment inquiry is illegitimate, unconstitutional, null, and void, because the full House of Representatives has not passed a formal resolution calling for an impeachment inquiry. (See also the immediately preceding post.)

The United States Constitution provides that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” Logically, that means impeachment requires a majority vote of the House to pass articles of impeachment. Otherwise, there is nothing at all in the Constitution about what procedural steps are appropriate or necessary to get to the point where the full House votes on impeachment.

The House of Representatives has official rules, but these rules do not provide that a vote by the House to initiate an impeachment inquiry. However, an authoritative manual states, “Under the modern practice, an impeachment is normally instituted by the House by the adoption of a resolution calling for a committee investigation of charges against the officer in question.” (emphasis added)

To examine the validity of the legal position announced by the current White House Counsel, consider the following

Law School Type Hypothetical Question

Legally Relevant Facts

John Doe, a member of the Republicrat Party, is President of the United States. President Doe stands accused of initiating “contracts” calling for hired assassins to kill his political enemies. Some of them have in fact been killed, and the surrounding evidence strongly suggests hits paid for by President Doe. The Speaker of the House, Jane Roe, a member of the Demopub Party, calls for a House committee to investigate the charges the charges. However, contrary to “normal modern practice,” she does not call for a formal House resolution to initiate the inquiry. The committee investigates, finds the charges persuasive, and adopts proposed articles of impeachment. The full House passes the articles of impeachment and sends them to the Senate for trial.

In all respects, the actions of the House are in accordance with the words of the Constitution and of the official House rules.

Question Presented

Prior to the Senate trial, President Doe initiates a lawsuit claiming that his impeachment for murder is unconstitutional.

What Result?