Impeachment Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Impeachment, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Impeachment?

It is the act of sueing, accusing or disputing. Normally the act of claiming that the witness is lying or that the statement is contradicting. It also refers to the act of charging the government official and removing him/her from duty for their public offence.

History and Meaning of Impeachment

Impeachment has been used as a legal term to describe the process of accusing public officials of governmental wrongdoings since the 14th century. Specifically, impeachment is a formal charge of wrongdoing against a public official by a legislative body, generally brought about by an investigation into alleged misconduct. The goal of impeachment is to determine whether or not the official is fit to continue serving in their position, and if found guilty, to remove them from office.

In the United States, the process of impeachment is outlined in the Constitution, specifically in Article 1, Section 2 and Article 1, Section 3. Impeachment in the US applies to federal officials including the President, Vice President and all civil officers. The House of Representatives votes on whether or not to impeach, and if the official is impeached, the Senate holds a trial to determine whether or not to remove the official from office.

Examples of Impeachment

  1. In 1974, President Nixon faced impeachment proceedings due to his involvement in the Watergate Scandal.
  2. In 2019, President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
  3. In 2021, the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, was investigated for sexual harassment allegations and faced calls for impeachment from the state legislature.

Legal Terms Similar to Impeachment

  1. Censure: A formal statement of disapproval used by a legislative body to reprimand a public official.
  2. Recall: A process by which citizens can initiate a vote to remove an elected official from office.
  3. Resignation: The voluntary act of choosing to leave a public position.