A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment
A friend recently asked me to explain the finer points of impeachment to him. (Actually, what he said was, “Yo, what’s the deal with impeachment?”) I had no real idea. I knew what it was (sorta – mostly stemming from murky recollections of the Clinton hearings on television) but not how it worked. By coincidence, however, I knew Barbara Radnofsky’s book was on its way, so I told my friend I’d see if I could get a handle on the issue and get back to him.
Now, to say I’m an expert on the topic after reading A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment would be ridiculous. But I feel a hell of lot more informed having now devoured that slim volume.
At less than 100 pages, Radnofsky’s guide punches way above its weight. But it’s a primer, designed to introduce voters to an important function of our democracy, so a lengthy tome would not only overdo it but defeat the book’s purpose. (And for anyone looking for more information, Radnofsky includes a three-page bibliography and some 300 – yes, 300 – detailed endnotes)
In these concise pages, our guide offers us an overview of the origins of impeachment–reaching way back into twelfth-century British history–the “ins and outs of the “constitutional process by which Congress can remove high officials” from office, and through each and every of the nineteen instances of impeachment, from the attempted 1799 impeachment of Constitution-signatory William Blount all the way to the 2010 impeachment and conviction of Judge G. Thomas Porteous, Jr.
Anyone considering themselves (or wishing to become) an informed citizen should read this book. And I have to agree with Radnofsky’s most important lesson: “Participate in our democracy. Vote.”
Barbara A. Radnofsky