Citations (1)


Footnotes (105)



Constitutional Fetishism and the Clinton Impeachment Debate

Michael J. Klarman

Harvard University

June 1999

University of Virginia Law School, Legal Studies Working Paper No. 99-2

This essay examines what the Clinton impeachment debate reveals about the nature of constitutional interpretation and the function of constitutional rhetoric in political debate. One striking feature of the impeachment debate was the certitude with which politicians and pundits espoused a variety of constitutional interpretations, notwithstanding the thinness of the constitutional law governing impeachment. After showing that the Constitution does not resolve most of the disputed issues raised during the Clinton impeachment, the essay considers the consequences of conducting a transparently political debate in constitutional terms. I argue, first, that debating impeachment questions in constitutional terms enabled politicians to evade responsibility for their actions. Second, by invoking constitutional rhetoric, Republicans implicitly tapped into the anti-majoritarian strand of constitutional law, without ever offering a justification for treating impeachment as an issue upon which minorities warrant protection from majoritarian decisionmaking. Finally, the essay briefly considers what the impeachment debate teaches us about constitutional interpretation.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 24

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: July 12, 1999  

Suggested Citation

Klarman, Michael J., Constitutional Fetishism and the Clinton Impeachment Debate (June 1999). University of Virginia Law School, Legal Studies Working Paper No. 99-2. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=169257 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.169257

Contact Information

Michael J. Klarman (Contact Author)
Harvard University ( email )
1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 2,669
Downloads: 160
Download Rank: 126,124
Citations:  1
Footnotes:  105

© 2015 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo4 in 0.375 seconds