Impeachment

Reformation to Referendum: Writing a New History of Parliament

I is for impeachment, a parliamentary prosecution in which classically the lower House of the legislature acts to present the alleged malefactor for trial, and the upper House sits in judgement. 

Much has been heard about the procedure in recent years, first because of its deployment in Brazil against the President, Dilma Rousseff, resulting in her removal from office in August 2017, and secondly because of the much-discussed (but remote) possibility of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump in the United States. In both the latter cases, impeachment has been embedded within a written constitution and recognised procedures. Although the origins of impeachment lie in English politics, impeachments were highly unusual, and always subject to intense political and legal argument about procedure and fairness. In almost each case the procedures were reinvented and argued over (a summary of the procedure here reasonably explains the broadly outlines, but conveys a rather…

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