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Debunking Arguments Against Impeachment

Overview

On January 13, 2021 the House of Representatives impeached then-President Donald J. Trump for a second time, this time for his role in inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. As the Senate took up Trump’s second impeachment trial, Protect Democracy mobilized legal scholars and experts from across the political spectrum to further refute arguments by the President’s defense team which had been duly discredited by the constitutional law community. The experts also expressed strong support for Congress’s essential constitutional role in holding the President to account.

In three separate public letters, constitutional law scholars and legal experts defended the constitutionality of the trial, rebuked the proposition that the President enjoyed a First Amendment right to incite an insurrection, and urged Senators to honor their oaths of office by voting on the merits of the case.

These letters can be found in the following sections.

Constitutionality Letter

In their first letter, Constitutional law scholars and legal experts from across the political spectrum defended the constitutionality of the 2021 impeachment trial of then-President Trump. 

“In sum, the Constitution’s text and structure, history, and precedent make clear that Congress’s impeachment power permits it to impeach, try, convict, and disqualify former officers, including former presidents. The Senate may take up the House’s article of impeachment against former President Donald J. Trump, conduct a trial, convict him, and disqualify him from holding a future office of the United States.”

For a PDF of this letter, click here.

View coverage of the letter in Politico here.

First Amendment Letter

Constitutional law scholars and legal experts came together for a second letter rebuking the proposition that President Trump enjoyed a First Amendment right to incite an insurrection.

“Although we differ from one another in our politics, disagree on many questions of constitutional law, and take different approaches to understanding the Constitution’s text, history, and context, we all agree that any First Amendment defense raised by President Trump’s attorneys would be legally frivolous. 

In other words, we all agree that the First Amendment does not prevent the Senate from convicting President Trump and disqualifying him from holding future office.”

For a PDF of this letter, click here.

View coverage of the letter in The New York Times here.

Senate Oaths Letter

A third letter was released by many of the same signatories as the two previously mentioned, this time urging Senators to honor their oath of office—as Members of Congress and as jurors in the impeachment trial—by voting on the merits of the case.

“It is now your turn to honor your oath as you weigh the evidence and arguments presented, even though it may require you to put our Constitution and the rule of law ahead of your own political allegiances. The eyes of the entire nation and future generations are upon you. Will you stand true to your oath?”

For a PDF of this letter, click here.

View coverage of the letter in The Washington Post here.

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