How Impeachment Works
Impeachment is in the air. Usually, it is a process reserved for delinquent presidents. Currently, the “i” word is also being invoked against Vice President Dick Cheney.
The popular notion is that “impeachment “ means removal. But it doesn’t. Impeachment is only the first step in a more extended process. Here’s the way the U.S. Constitution puts it:
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
There is no special provision for cases involving the Vice President. The current push to impeach Vice President Cheney is, to our knowledge, without precedent.
According to the Constitution, removal of the president or vice president does not necessarily end the process:
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.
The entire process is further complicated by a factor probably unknown to our founding fathers; namely, the filibuster.
None of the above is intended to discourage those who are busily conducting all kinds of spectacular events to impeach either the president or the vice president or both.
The above is just a reminder than “impeachment” is just the beginning of a tough tricky task. Lotsa luck!