Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment, and Punishment, according to Law.
Reading that, it seems pretty clear that an impeached president is disqualified from holding public office in the future, right? Wrong! Previous impeachments show this situation has historically been interpreted differently than you might think.
Impeachment is the first step in a two-stage process to remove a president from office for committing “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
If impeached by the House, the president goes before the Senate. In this trial, the President will be represented by lawyers and a few selected House members will serve as “prosecutors.” The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will preside, and all 100 Senators will act as the jury.
If two-thirds of the Senate find the president guilty, he/she will be convicted and removed from office.
One example is the impeachment of circuit judge West Hughes Humphreys in 1862. The Senate took two separate votes: A supermajority first voted to convict and remove Humphrey from office followed by a simple majority vote to disqualify him from holding public office in the future. The Senate defended taking these separate votes on the grounds that the removal and disqualification portions of the clause are not clearly intertwined. I’m not sure how they reached that conclusion, but they did.
As you can imagine, it probably won’t be this cut and dry if we ever get to this point. It’s very likely that this matter would be decided by the Supreme Court.
- John Tyler was the first impeached president.
- Impeachment isn’t limited to presidents.
- Only nineteen federal officials have ever been impeached.
- History.com – Impeachment
- Quora.com – Can a president run for reelection after impeachment?
- Heritage.org – Punishment for Impeachment