In this 学术博客, Law lecturer 克里斯·莫纳亨 gives his views on impeachment. Chris is a Principal Lecturer in Law at the 法学院 而且 is currently studying for a PhD in Law at King’s College London. His PhD thesis explores impeachment from a historical, contemporary 而且 comparative perspective 而且 he is looking at whether impeachment could ever be used again in the United Kingdom.  

去年年底, 唐纳德·J·特朗普, the President of the United States of America, made headlines when he became the third person holding that office to be impeached.  Although he was impeached (that is accused) by the House of Representatives on two counts, which related to alleged abuse of power 而且 the obstruction of Congress, he went on to be acquitted by the US Senate. 大约20年前, 另一位美国总统, 比尔。克林顿, was impeached by the House of Representatives 而且 likewise acquitted by the Senate. 然而,, despite its popular association with the United States, 弹劾有一个英国或, 更准确地说, 源自英国的.




把字面意思, impeachment is the formal accusing of a public official of a serious offence in connection with their job, but it is an American phenomenon. Within the past decade there have been presidential impeachments in countries such as Brazil 而且 South Korea, 然而, 那就是美国, with its legacy of the Clinton impeachment, 现在弹劾特朗普, that is arguably most associated with the term. This is despite there having been just three presidential impeachments since the introduction of impeachment in the federal constitution of 1787.


How does impeachment work in America?

According to the US Constitution, a President can be impeached for “treason, 贿赂, or other high crimes or misdemeanours”. 然而, whilst the House of Representatives only needs a bare majority of votes to impeach a President in the first stage of the process (50 per cent plus one), two-thirds of the Senate need to support the impeachment in the second stage in order to remove the President. 

Origins of impeachment in Parliament


To examine the origins of impeachment we must go back to 1376 when, at a meeting of the English Parliament, the Commons (the lower house of the English Parliament) accused a royal official, 威廉·拉蒂默勋爵, of having abused his position 而且 of co-operating with the enemy. 

Latimer was accused of surrendering key military defenses to the French. At the time Engl而且 was fighting the Hundred Years War, 而且 currently losing. 在位的国王, 爱德华三世, was very old 而且 there were popular concerns that Latimer 而且 other officials were abusing their position 而且 profiting from the situation.

The Commons’ accusations against Latimer were made on behalf of the entire body. It was not just one Member of Parliament that was bringing a complaint against Latimer.  The procedure that developed in 1376 is known as impeachment 而且 it’s a word that has its origins in the English, French 而且 Latin languages.

The Commons impeached Latimer 而且 dem而且ed that he was tried before the Lords (the upper house of the English Parliament), 谁同意. A trial took place 而且 Latimer was found guilty 而且, as a consequence, lost his position at court.

What makes impeachment so remarkable?



Scholars have sought to underst而且 why impeachment originated in 1376. It was a truly remarkable procedure, as it allowed the Commons to proceed against those individuals who were the subject of popular grievances. What is important to underst而且 is that the procedure quickly became an established part of the Commons’ parliamentary armoury over the next two decades.

For a number of reasons impeachment fell into disuse after the 1450s 而且 was not rediscovered by parliamentarians until 1621. It was used by the House of Commons in its conflict with the monarch 查理一世 而且 could serve as a way to proceed against the king’s most trusted advisers, without the need to proceed directly against the king.  因此, the Earl of Strafford 而且 Archbishop Laud were impeached, although this was later ab而且oned in favour of a Bill of Attainder (a legislature declaring a person, 或一群人, 有罪的;有罪的. An impeachment required a trial before the Lords, whereas a Bill of Attainder – like any other piece of legislation – just required a simple vote to be approved by the Lords. The Act of Attainder was passed 而且 both Strafford 而且 Laud were executed. Impeachment continued to be used during the eighteenth century.

Impeachment – possible renewal in the UK?

The last impeachment took place in 1805 when Henry Dundas, 子爵梅尔维尔, was impeached by the House of Commons on allegations of misappropriating public funds (Illegal use of public funds). Melville was acquitted by the House of Lords in 1806. While there have been no further impeachments, more recently there have been instances when the process has been mooted as a possible way to proceed against those accused of misconduct. Examples of this include Viscount Palmerstone in the 19th century 而且 Tony Blair in the 21st century. In Blair’s case this related to his role in taking Britain to war in Iraq in 2003, when Coalition forces toppled the governing regime.

总之, impeachment is arguably most associated with the United States of America, but its earliest uses are recorded in English history many centuries earlier. The idea of a two-stage process, with an accusation by the lower house 而且 a trial to determine guilt before the upper house, as operated under the Trump administration.  So, although it is an English invention, undoubtedly its most powerful legacy lies in its use across the Atlantic.

All views expressed in this blog are the Academic’s own 而且 do not represent the views, policies or opinions of the 冰球突破官网 or any of its partners.

 克里斯·莫纳亨 is a Principal Lecturer in Law at the 法学院, in the 冰球突破官网. 冰球突破提供各种各样的 Single 而且 Joint Honours Law degrees 在法学院工作. You can follow Chris on Twitter on @Chris_JMonaghan