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October 04, 2019

ABA Legal Fact Check explores history, law of impeachment

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2019 — The American Bar Association has posted a new ABA Legal Fact Check that explores the history and law of congressional impeachments.

Nearly a half century ago, then-U.S. Rep. Gerald Ford of Michigan offered this blunt assessment of what it takes to impeach a sitting federal official during his 1970 attempt to impeach U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history,” he said. As the U.S. House of Representatives begins its fourth impeachment inquiry of a U.S. president, the new ABA Legal Fact Check explains why this remark reflects today’s reality.

ABA Legal Fact Check seeks to help the media and public find dependable answers and explanations to sometimes confusing legal questions and issues. For coverage of other timely issues in the news, these prior ABA Legal Fact Checks might be helpful:

  • Click here on what legally constitutes the crime of treason
  • Click here for under what circumstances, if any, would a president be above the law

  • Click here for legal look on the authority of a president to issue pardons

  • Click here on whether it is illegal to boycott the 2020 U.S. census

  • Click here for legal backgrounder on contempt of Congress

  • Click here on a president’s emergency powers

The URL for the site is Follow us on Twitter @ABAFactCheck.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement on line. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.