Constitutional emergency

It’s kind of hard to know what to say about the events in DC on 6 January. But it hardly seems that someone who keeps a blog that’s partly about democracy in America (and elsewhere) should say nothing. So here’s an attempt.

First of all, the actions of the mob and the encouragement by the president are simply reprehensible, as was the president’s statement on social media some time later, in which he again made the claim that the election was stolen from him. (It should not need to be said, but that allegation is 100% false.)

It was a very bad day for American democracy (if we can even call it that anymore), that’s for sure. In fact, while the president said today that he would commit to a transition, even that statement again reiterated his non-concession of the election results. It is not as if he should be trusted just because he said some of the right words. I’d say we are still in a constitutional emergency as of today. I do not say that lightly, but I believe the label is apt.

Therefore, my view is that there needs to be some response. What should that response be? Is an impeachment and removal worth pursuing at this point? Maybe, although one could have a debate over whether the House majority should go ahead with it absent a pre-commitment (even if private) this time of sufficient Republican Senators on board. I’d question the value of a second impeachment if it also ended in a second non-removal. Just today I learned that it is understood to take only a majority of the Senate to impose disqualification from future office (but probably this is conditional on conviction–see comment thread below). That does not directly deal with the emergency–he stays in power for almost two more weeks, possibly even more enraged and dangerous. But to the extent that his non-concession is tied to keeping the base riled up for a future run for presidency, closing that path might be worthwhile.

Then there is the 25th Amendment. I’ve been skeptical all along of those who have been calling for that. It is designed to make it nearly impossible to remove a president who contests the Vice President’s and cabinet majority’s declaration. In other words, it is meant to preserve the fixed term in almost any situation short of physical incapacity. But here, the short time period works in favor–the declaration is effective immediately, and the House and Senate could just run out the clock on the mandated vote to reject the (temporarily ousted) president’s contest. Obviously, the big problem is a cabinet, by definition, consisting of the president’s own appointees. Nonetheless, the US newspapers are full of calls, even from some Republicans (some named, most not) for this path to be taken or considered. That itself is fairly remarkable. Even the National Association of Manufacturers said as much. I’d still regard it as unlikely. But it isn’t out of the question.

Basically, I just have the strong feeling that something official needs to be done. This was a series of events that I’d been fearing would happen in some form for as long as this administration has been in office, although I was still shocked as the day actually unfolded. It may even have been a (half-assed and yet still serious) coup attempt, although I am less interested in debating whether that term applies or not than I am in an official rebuke to the president for encouraging it in public, and perhaps in other ways as yet unknown in private.

I have not even mentioned yet the willingness of elected legislators to take a pro-forma process of accepting electoral-vote certificates and turning it into a spectacle for claiming the right to overturn citizens’ votes in certain states. Even after the insurrection (which I think is the correct word for the events) had taken place, we still saw three fifths of the Republican House members go on record in favor of rejecting the voter’s choice. That there is public willingness for such actions among Republican voters (as these members clearly believe there is, evidently confirmed by a YouGov poll today) is an ongoing emergency for democracy, regardless of any response to this week’s events.

40 thoughts on “Constitutional emergency

  1. Lindsey Graham says he will support suspension if the president does anything else like yesterday. That position can be summarised as ‘Mr President, if you try to overthrow the constitution one more time…’

  2. The real emergency is the ongoing one, not what might happen in the next two weeks. That’s because the purpose of Trump’s complaints, threats, lawsuits and incitement has never been to attempt to undo the results of the voting or remain in office. The purpose has always been to lay the foundation for a narrative of betrayal and corruption that will keep Trump’s supporters angry and active in the coming years. He spent years peddling the story that Obama shouldn’t be president because he wasn’t native born. Now he will spend more years peddling the story that Biden shouldn’t be president because the election was rigged. It doesn’t matter whether he believes that either story is the literal truth. Both stories are symbolically true in his world and in the world of his supporters. And they serve his purpose regardless their veracity.

    • I would have agreed with you until yesterday. However this was not a spontaneous event.

      I have worked in parliaments and courts. Little courthouses in the far west of NSW have better security that the US capitol had yesterday. I have no idea what happened to the Capitol Police. Sometimes, as with the front door, they appeared to be missing in action. Sometimes they appeared to be fraternising with the insurrectionists. No doubt an investigation will sort some of that out in the next few months.

      What is a matter of public record is that the Pentagon refused help to the District of Columbia and Congress itself until very late in the day and it was Virginia national guards and police who initially restored order. It is quite hard to imagine the Pentagon allowing this crisis to continue. Their action is inexplicable unless someone had given them quote specific orders.

      I know the security protocols for the Australian parliament. If yesterday’s incident had happened in Canberra police from all over the capital territory and nearby towns in NSW would have converged on parliament immediately. An incident commander with overall authority would have been in place within 2 minutes. Australian Federal Police, New South Wales Police Service and RAAF helicopters would have arrived within 10 minutes. Army units would have been there within 30.

      You just cannot occupy a national congress or parliament for several hours without the collusion of the executive.

      • A FiveThirtyEight article describes a survey of police responses to demonstrations. Its headline and sub-headline read:

        The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration
        Authorities are more than twice as likely to break up a left-wing protest than a right-wing protest.

      • That raises an interesting question. As I have heard it, which doesn’t make it true, Trump was either forced to authorize the Pentagon to act or, perhaps less likely, Pence and some of Trump’s aides simply said “he approved this order.”

        if they hadn’t a what point would Virginia had have the to exercise its power to “engage in War… in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.” War of course being a stretch

      • My understanding is that DC National Guard deployments can be authorised by the Secretary of Defense, and that Pence and Pelosi (acting as the heads of the two houses of Congress) requested it and the Secretary of Defense authorised it without referral to the Commander in Chief.

        The Governors of Virginia and Maryland authorized deployments of their state National Guards on a request from (it’s unclear – possibly the Mayor of DC, possibly also Pence/Pelosi; I’ve seen it both ways).

        They used a mechanism for dealing with minor things when the President is too busy to work around the fact he wouldn’t authorise a deployment.

      • The governors of Maryland and Virginia both stated they spent hours trying to get authorisation from the Pentagon to despatch their national guards to Washington and were either outright refused or left hanging on the phone with minor officials. The acting defence secretary eventually put out a statement with no mention of the White House that he was activating at the congressional leadership’s request.

        The DC council issued a statement deploring that the Pentagon was refusing to activate the DC national guard.

        There was approximately two hours between the first breach of the capitol and the Pentagon agreeing to activate the national guards.

        By that time, according to unconfirmed reports, the White House counsel was advising Trump he would face criminal liability if he didn’t act.

        I’m quite direct about calling this an attempted coup because I believe there is good, if not decisive, evidence Trump fantasised that he could abort the electoral count by denying federal assistance to congress. The Cruz/Hawley claque had somehow persuaded themselves the count had a five day time limit, after which the house could elect Trump. Or they had decided that putting out this lie would draw a larger crowd of angry fantasists.

        We know the White House was in touch with Hawley because Giuliani left a message for Hawley on the wrong senator’s phone.

      • Alan wrote, ” Or they had decided that putting out this lie would draw a larger crowd of angry fantasists.”

        This — and (in my opinion) only this. These people do not believe — and have not believed since November 4 — that they might actually keep Trump in the presidency.

      • I didn’t express myself well. I think it’s possible Trump and his immediate advisers and family may have believed there was a way for him to remain president. Some of the dopier objecting senators may have believed it as well. Cruz? Hawley? Absolutely cynical rhetoric to persuade the MAGA fantasists that the electoral count was a real opportunity to elect Trump.

      • Giuliani’s wrong number reminded me of the story that Idi Amin seized power in Uganda because a telephone operator who was of Amin’s tribe overheard then-President Milton Obote discussing plans to sack then-General Amin. This was often repeated in the 1970s but the BBC now says it was apocryphal.
        Less bloodily there was Gough Whitlam’s failure to tell the Labor caucus in parliament that the Governor-General had dismissed him on 11 November 1975. Had ALP MHRs and Senators known, they could have denied the Fraser caretaker government Supply.

      • I have a worse 1975 story from a close friend who was then working as the senate liaison officer. His job was keeping the president informed of events outside the senate.

        No-one told him about the dismissal. The numbers were equal Labor could have deferred supply in exactly the same way as the Coalition, or the president could have simply have suspended the sitting. Either would have left the governor-general in a terminally embarrassing and nonviable position.

        Sen Wriedt, leader of the government in the senate (who didn’t know he’d been dismissed) and Sen the Honourable Reg (the Toecutter) Withers* are in the president’s room waiting to go in at the start of the day’s session.

        Wreidt: So what are you going to do, Reg?
        Withers: Well. Ken, now that the government’s been sacked we are going to pass the budget.
        Wriedt: We knew you couldn’t hold your numbers and you’d have to give in eventually. But you’re a great man, Reg. Even after the worst defeat of your career you can still crack a joke.

        And the rest, as they say, is history.

        *One day Withers and Mitch McConnell will meet in heaven, or more likely elsewhere, and McConnell will sink to his knees and weep that he had no chance to be mentored in evil by Withers.

  3. Matthew, could you say more about the disqualification by Senate majority possibility? This seems implausible to me based on plain reading of the constitution, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m missing something. I didn’t realise removal after impeachment implied disqualification in any case until yesterday!

    If El Presidente is impeached again, that will make him the first official of any kind to be impeached twice. I think that has enough symbolic value to make it worth doing, even if nothing else works.

    • As far as I understand it a majority vote could disqualify someone who has been impeached and convicted. Not simply impeached.

      • The US Const says that two-thirds of Senators are necessary to “convict” and also says the only punishments allowable on impeachment are removal from office and disqualification from holding office in future. (No “Braveheart”/ Robert Naylor-type hangings and drawings permitted to Congress – the Framers were very influenced by the House of Commons as a bad example).
        Since 2/3 is explicitly required for Option A on the menu (conviction), the principle of “expressio unius est exclusio alterius” means that the normal default rule (majority of the quorum present) kicks in for items B and C (removal and disqualification). (Unless some clown tries to argue that it can be filibustered…?)
        Disqualification is not automatic, only if imposed – eg Alcee Hastings was removed from his federal judgeship in 1988 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcee_Hastings#Impeachment_trial, but the Senate declined to disqualify him, and he was elected to the US House four years later.
        Not sure if removal is automatic. During the Clinton trial it was mooted that numerous Democrats were happy to pass a motion merely censuring or reprimanding the President (“hands off your employees, Mr President,, because after 20.1.01 you won’t have America’s leading feminist theorists working hard to devise excuses for your behaviour to keep you in office”) without removing him; I heard suggestions that that was unconstitutional and even that it would have amounted to a Bill of Attainder (see above, again, re Robert Naylor).

    • A fresh impeachment would also make another coup attempt far less likely. I’m thinking particularly of a senate seized of articles of impeachment watching an attempt to summon another frenzied riot on Inauguration Day.

    • It seems to me not only an implausible reading but a deeply foolish one.

      Rule #1 do not produce novel and frightening readings of the constitution in the middle of a state of siege.

      Rule #2 Stop for one moment and think about whether it’s desirable in any way, shape or form, for the senate to be able to disqualify by simple majority.

      • Not what I would draft (I’d actually go for 60% to remove and 80% to disqualify… yes I am fond of the PNG Constitutiton, how did you guess) but remember that disqualification, even (arguendo) by simple majority, can only kick in if and once there has been a conviction and removal which both require 66.67%.
        Analogous in many ways to a judge imposing a sentence after the jury has convicted (unanimously).
        It would only be an issue if 17% of Senators said “Hey, wait, I only wanted to send this person to the sin-bin for long enough to have to a win a congressional seat and launch a political comeback, not to bar them for life” and while that is not non-existent it is less than the number who would object to a simple majority banning impeached officials for life without a prior conviction by 2/3.
        yes it would make more sense to vote on proposed sanctions in descending order of severity (remove and disqualify for X years, remove without disqualifying, censure without removing) until one gets 66.67% or all have been voted on and fallen short. That way a majority greater than 50% but less than 66.67% couldn’t pull a “bait and switch” on the “remove but not disqualify” tranche
        Alcee Hastings seemed to be an unusual case where the proportion of Senators to remove was over 66.67% but the proportion wanting to disqualify was under 50% (not in the 51 to 66% range).

    • I intended to include that link regarding a majority of the Senate being sufficient to disqualify but inadvertently left it out. I just found it and will add it to the post. But I will also put it here. The key passage from the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School is, “Although an argument can be made that disqualification should nonetheless require a two-thirds vote, the Senate has determined that disqualification may be accomplished by a simple majority vote.” It has footnotes to these two clauses. which refer to precedents.

      It is likely, as Mark and Alan said, that this vote via majority is relevant only after a conviction (2/3), not as an alternative to removal.

      • Thanks, MSS, that clarifies. Slight amendment to what I wrote above – option A needing two-thirds is “conviction + removal” as a package, option B is “disqualification” on its own. The Supreme Court is reluctant to review conduct of impeachment trials – especially compared to its willingness to second-guess either House unseating one of its own members – compare Judge Walter Nixon with Adam Clayton Powell.

  4. For decades, the Senate has made a point of confirming the most important incoming cabinet officials before Inauguration Day. See

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-cabinet-confirmations/2021/01/07/a5e99198-4fbe-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html

    That’s what the Senate should be doing now. And dealing with the pandemic and resulting mass unemployment. If spending several days on impeachment and the 25th Amendment gets in the way of these tasks, then don’t bother.

    The mechanics of the 25th Amendment, and the political drama of impeachment, are fascinating topics for op-eds and Twitter threads. So is speculation about whether or not somebody told the Pentagon to keep hands off the demonstrators at the Capitol. What’s important is the next twelve years, not the next twelve days. Trump will be out of office soon enough. The problems — both socio-economic and institutional — that brought him to power will remain. Spending time and energy now to get him out of office before January 20 will do nothing to address those problems.

  5. I admire America, and almost all Americans I have met have been very nice people, but it suffers today because of the timing and manner of its foundation – a war in the age of aristocracy that has led to gun rights, a dysfunctional governmental system and the funny habit of calling anyone who has ever held office, elected or appointed, by the title of that office decades after they have left it, a habit even indulged in by Australian TV interviewers with their “Governor Whitman”, “Secretary Clinton”, “Mayor Giuliani, “Sherriff Arpaio”, etc. Add to that sustenance by slavery, rampant capitalism, the 1960s cultural revolution that put rights above responsibilities, mindless entertainment, cancel culture, political riots (in a good cause of course), store-burnings (also in a good cause of course) and massive inequality. Then you create an unhappy, divided society to be exploited by Donald Trump and others. But the American people have already voted him out of office. The vindictive stupidity of the Democrats who want to impeach him before his last nine days are up shows that neither side is interested in “healing the divide”.

    The basic problem is that the US has dressed up a political process as a judicial one. If an Australian prime minister behaved like Donald Trump, his or her party could simply remove him or her from office, but it could not ban him or her from ever holding office again. Everyone knows this is a political judgment not a judicial one. In the US, the House of Representatives acts as the prosecutor and lays charges, while the Senate acts as court and determines guilt. While this sounds judicial, in this case it is basically a Democrat House prosecuting a Republican president and is thus inherently political, so you have one party attempting to ban someone from another party from ever being elected to any federal position again, even though 74 million people voted for him. That is a guaranteed way to tell tens of millions of disaffected Americans that the system will never hear them and that they had better have some more riots.

    • Excellent point, Chris – “dressed up a political process as a judicial one”. So, Rudd gets voted out by the caucus. but it can then restore him.
      This is one reason why I have long favoured something like John Hart Ely’s version of representation-reinforcing judicial review. You tell people “You are guaranteed a right to vote and can’t be legally disenfranchised”, but not “that policy position you strongly believe in and have worked so hard towards will never be enacted (and in fact, by espousing it, you have outed yourself as an enemy of The Constitution, as much as a Klansman or a Stalinist, with whatever legal consequences that entails)”. That makes me an outlier both to US constitutional scholars and their Australian admirers* (“What, you don’t believe in a constitutional right to X? Why don’t you just burn nonconformists on the village green and be done with it!”) and also to the Australian legal mainstream (“well, we have women’s suffrage and equal electorates because Parliament voted to enact these things, so logically Parliament could always repeal these things one day”).
      * Just last week I read an Australian law professor grumbling about the High Court’s loose approach to “establishing religion” – if the government gives religious schools money, even to build science labs to teach children evolution, that frees up their other money to build chapels, ergo MY TAXES are funding their religious worship! – and urging a move towards the US Supreme Court’s stricter jurisprudence on the matter, under which states can fund books but not maps, or vice versa (I forget which one, I just remember Rehnquist’s query about where this left funding of atlases). Putting aside that a growing proportion of private schools in Australia are entirely secular, for-profit colleges, I am intrigued why anyone would hold up the present-day United States of America as a successful attempt to separate religion from politics – not just compared to Australia but even as compared to, say, Germany, where all nominal Lutherans get a 1% tax surcharge to fund their Land’s established state church. Australian doctrinal kludging may work in practice, but does it work in theory?

      • Tom,

        Thank you. I think I get your point, though you are in danger of being cancelled for even expressing it.

        I wonder how you can become a law professor if you don’t know that the religious freedom clause of the Australian Constitution and that of the US Constitution are very different. I guess the law professor would want books not funded rather than maps as there are many religious books but few religious maps. The funding of non-government schools, religious or not, is standard practice throughout the OECD (OECD Education at a Glance 2015, Table B3.3), though not Australia’s bizarre Howard/Gonski SES model. You are right: religion and politics are more closely connected in the US than in Australia, though labelling a view as religious is a standard debating tactic for those who don’t like that view but are too lazy to present an actual argument.

      • Chris, the main textual difference between the USA’s Religion Clauses (not just the First Amendment but also the Religious Tests clause in the original model) and Australia’s, apart from the latter being consolidated in one section, is that (a) the USA says “of religion” whereas Australia says “any religion” – the High Court in DOGS (1981) said this only banned singling-out, whereas my old dean, Geoff Walker, who is to the right of, said on the contrary it should make the australian verison more emphatic, and (b) the US clause says “respecting” whereas Australia’s says “law to” which our Justices have construed to mean only laws with the main purpose of establishing or restricting religion are unconstitutional.
        I actually agree that the Australian approach is too lax. I am not against the feds funding science blocks or working toilets at religious-run schools. I am against the feds funding chaplains – who do not need any certified counselling qualifications, but do need to be nominated by a religious denomination (atheists need not apply) – in state schools. I say that despite having a couple of good friends doing good jobs in that role (seemingly with none of the parents objecting) – it’s the principle.
        if the proper (in my view) level of church/ state cooperation is, let’s say, 5 on a scale with pre-1789 France at 10 and the Vendee at 0, it seems like the US Surpeme Court insists on a level of 2 while the Australian High Court permits a level of 6. Both err, in opposing directions; the latter is closer to the mark.

      • Tom,

        The US Constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. …”. The Australian Constitution says, “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.” It seems neither prevents a state from doing any of these things, though I had always believed that US states could. It seems that for the purposes of the current discussion, the difference is in each supreme court’s interpretations.

        I too am opposed to the feds funding school chaplains, but I am not opposed to chaplains, which existed in Victorian government schools long before John Howard decided to wedge Labor by funding them and attracted not a word of opposition for those several decades. After all, chaplains exist in public hospitals, prisons, the armed services and so on. The Howard funding just excited the anti-Howard brigade.

      • The Impeachment Clause does not provide for regular judicial trial of impeachable offences. To say offences like these should not face political trial is to say that the US should have a different constitution or that Trump’s offences should not be punished.

        This is one of the many points where the Danish constitution is clearly superior to the United States constitution:

        34. The Folketing shall be inviolable. Any person who attacks its security or freedom, or any person who issues or obeys any command aiming thereat shall be deemed guilty of high treason.

      • Books, maps, atlases. This is too good to be true! Any idea what case this was in?

        (Re Tom Round, 11/01/2021 at 1:45 pm)

    • Chris, a judgement does not have to be judicial to be correct. Inciting a mob to attack Congress, especially in an attempt to subvert the constitutional process, is a “high crime or misdemeanor”. If it is not, then nothing is. Is there is any potential for abuse of a constitutional provision, it’s in the suggestion to use the 25th amendment, not impeachment.

      You can argue with the decisions of the House and Congress in a specific instance, but you cannot disqualify them from a task they were explicitly and deliberately allocated. The Framers knew they were putting this power in the hands of politicians and nonetheless tasked them with a quasi-judicial task. They didn’t invent this kind of power allocation, they copied what they knew from Britain. If anything, they made it much less prone to abuse as they required two-thirds in the Senate. If Trump is convicted, it won’t be a partisan but a bipartisan move – and disqualifying “one person” from another party is something completely different from disqualifying any member from the other party.

      Would I rather the US had some kind of parliamentary system? Of course I would! (NB, under such a system, it is extremely doubtful Trump would ever have become a chief executive – he might not even have tried). But the system is such as it is, and when it is clearly, objectively appropriate to use the tools that are available, then one should do so. The risk you ultimately point to is not that this “judicial” role is exercised by politicians – do you really think conspiracist Trump supporters would be more accepting of impeachment, removal, and/or disqualification if it went through the courts?

      The risk you point to is about whether or not a group that has all but rejected democracy and the constitutional process are appeased. (These include many who started saying they weren’t ‘heard by the system’ as soon as Obama was elected, whose illegitimacy they also questioned. If Trump had, in 2008, questioned not birth certificates but election certificates, they would have started questioning the electoral process back then). Will they really be appeased by anything short of the complete subversion of this election? Now, I have myself thought that many have not been open enough to reconciliation and “healing the divide”. Yes, sometimes punishment can only lead to more disaffection. At other times though, appeasement and impunity only encourages more boldness. It must be clear that some actions can and will not be tolerated. Doing otherwise could severely undermine democracy and the constitution.

      The problem is not any kind of perceived “unfairness” to Trump or his supporters. It is not “unfair” to remove or even disqualify someone who has shown such disregard and contempt to his own oath of office and the constitutional system he swore to protect. The problem is not the enforcement of that oath and constitutional system through the tools provided by the same: it is Trump himself and the willingness of his supporters to believe his lies and delusions he promotes.

      • jd,

        I imagine incitement to violence is a crime in the US as in Australia, in which case a prosecution can be launched and be subject to the normal processes of law. I think the defence would argue that there was no incitement to violence in Donald Trump’s words, and the jury, the appeal judges and so forth would decide the matter. In this case, members of the jury, the Senate, have already declared him guilty.

        I don’t disqualify the Congress from pursuing its constitutional rights. I just think this is an illustration of the superiority of a parliamentary system over a presidential one, as you do.

        Requiring a special majority is a safeguard, but I am still uneasy about the whole thing. I don’t see any long-term solution of the US.

      • This looks very like a mass shooting incident. Everyone condemns the shooting but then any attempt to act on the US’s obvious gun problem gets condemned as an attack on national unity and an attempt to take political advantage of the shooting. The road to reconciliation runs through accountability.

      • Alan,

        I don’t see the comparison. I’d love the US to act on both its appalling gun problem and its dysfunctional constitution. I don’t see it doing either. Everyone who damages property or assaults or besets another person should be charged and dealt with by the courts, irrespective of their cause or position in society. Impeaching Donald Trump to remove him from office after he has already left office is ridiculous. To do so to ban him from ever running again is undemocratic and indicates a fear that he might win again and will certainly tell his supporters that the Democrats fear he might win again. Given the executive presidency, the US has to have a procedure for removing a president, but that’s where is should stop.

      • The Impeachment Clause itself is contrary to your argument. The clause provides for disqualification and for further prosecution of the original offence. Your speculation about fearing that Trump would run again is without foundation. Trump’s approval rating has declined 13 points in a week. It would be an advantage to Democrats for him to run again in 2024 because Gus standing with the electorate is falling so fast, and it would almost inevitably cause an actual split in the Republican Party.

        There must be consequences to an attempt to overthrow the constitution, just as there were in 1865.

      • Alan,

        That seems to underline my argument: a political process is being dressed up as a judicial one, with the Senate taking the role of the court. If Donald Trump has committed a crime, the courts should deal with it.

      • It is not even clear that the conduct of a president who has not been impeached and convicted can be prosecuted. People are already making the argument that it cannot. Trump cannot be impeached by the courts and it is unclear if he can even be prosecuted in the courts. The result of your argument would be impunity for an attempted coup.

      • Alan,

        I think from what I have read that criminal proceedings can be brought against an ex-president. Having politicians ban someone from contesting elections is banana dictatorship stuff.

  6. What country has the best procedure for impeaching and/or remove a President? Parliamentary democracies and Prime Ministers with the title of President are exempt because of the support and/or toleration of a majority.

    Is there a Presidential democracy where the people and/or electoral college elects the President where the impeachment and/or removal of a President is by majority vote?

    The US House is by majority and Senate is 2/3rds. Majority seems too low unless the next step in the process is to go back to the people to vote yes or no for removal as in a recall. 2/3rds seems too high of a bar. It seems like 3/5 would be a good threshold for removal as it is not too low or too high.

  7. Pingback: Emergency electoral reform: OLPR for the US House | Fruits and Votes

  8. Pingback: Matt Shugart Makes the Case for Proportional Representation in Congress to Save the Country from Authoritarian Wing of Republican Party | Election Law Blog

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