Let Me Be Blunt: In Blount, the Senate Never Said that Senators Aren't Impeachable

25 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2014 Last revised: 29 Jan 2015

Date Written: October 14, 2014


This paper responds to Benjamin Cassady, “You’ve Got Your Crook, I’ve Got Mine”: Why the Disqualification Clause Doesn’t (Always) Disqualify, 32 Quinnipiac L. Rev. 209 (2014) (available on SSRN).

The Senate motion in Blount that supposedly stands for the proposition that legislators aren’t impeachable — the motion to dismiss the House’s Blount impeachment — contains no subtleties to trap the unwary; no intricate analysis is needed. The frequent claim — made by both academic historians and lawyers, including Mr. Cassady — that the Senate decided, in the Blount case, that senators aren’t civil officers, or that members of Congress aren’t subject to impeachment, is simply flat-out wrong. Yet people keep on making it.

My main point in this response to Mr. Casssady is simple: If senators can be impeached, then the notion that an impeached senator can be removed from the Senate but not disqualified from returning to the Senate seems counterintuitive. And if senators can be barred from future Senate service, then so should all convicted and disqualified impeachment defendants, whatever their government position.

This paper will appear with 3 other responses to Mr. Cassady — by Professors Peter C. Hoffer, Brian C. Kalt, and Seth Barrett Tillman. (The latter two responses are posted on SSRN in draft form.)

Suggested Citation

Melton, Buckner, Let Me Be Blunt: In Blount, the Senate Never Said that Senators Aren't Impeachable (October 14, 2014). Quinnipiac Law Review, Vol. 33, p.33, 2014 (INVITED RESPONSE), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2509665

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