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Conditions of Impeachment


As part of a forum on the Constitution, five lawmakers and legal scholars consider probable cause for using the Fourteenth Amendment

The Constitution of the United States is a foundational element of national mythology, an exceptional document for its time that, unlike other constitutions, is still cited in contemporary political discussions. In the October issue of Harper’s Magazine, five lawmakers and legal scholars—Donna Edwards, five–term congresswoman from Maryland, serving in the House of Representatives; Mary Anne Franks, President and Legislative and Tech Policy Director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, and author of the new book The Cult of the Constitution; David Law, Charles Nagel Chair of Constitutional Law and Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis, and the Sir Y. K. Pao Chair in Public Law at the University of Hong Kong; Lawrence Lessig, professor at Harvard Law School, specializing in constitutional and comparative constitutional law; Lewis Michael Seidman, professor at Georgetown University Law Center, specializing in constitutional law and criminal justice; and Georgetown Law professor Rosa Brooks—participated in a forum that went beyond speculations about what the framers would want and considered, among other questions, how the Constitution could be changed in an era of partisan polarization, and whether the whole thing should be scrapped and rewritten.

This week’s episode is an excerpt from the forum that did not appear in print, and which begins with a very topical issue: impeachment. The legal scholars and lawmakers discuss the functions and limitations of the Fourteenth Amendment, and how we could think differently about the relationship between the constitutionality and democracy of impeachment.

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