Impeachment As Punishment

12 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2018  

Andrew Manuel Crespo

Harvard Law School

Date Written: 2018


In their recent book "To End a Presidency" Prof. Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz canvas the arguments for and against impeaching a president who has committed high Crimes and Misdemeanors. This review essay examines that same question ("why impeach?") through the broader lens of criminal jurisprudence, which perennially confronts the related and familiar question: "why punish?" After assessing Tribe and Matz's arguments for and against impeachment along the familiar Benthamite and Kantian axes, the essay ultimately recasts the dilemma of impeachment as a dilemma for reconstructivist accounts of punishment itself: Does punishing a wrongdoer--including potentially the President of the United States--help society heal in the wake of serious criminal acts, or does the prospect of punishment only tear us further apart?

Keywords: Punishment, Impeachment, Criminal Law, Deterrence, Incapacitation, Retributivism, Reconstructivism, Criminal Jurisprudence, Penology, Criminology

JEL Classification: K14, Y30

Suggested Citation

Crespo, Andrew Manuel, Impeachment As Punishment (2018). Harvard Law & Policy Review, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2019, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Andrew Manuel Crespo (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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