Every time impeachment has come up (Nixon, Clinton, and Trump) the difficulty of defining what was impeachment worthy has come up. This seems to be because the constitution gives very little definition as to what should warrant impeachment or removal from office.

Have there every been serious attempts to better define when/if impeachment should occur, or otherwise better clarify this section of the constitution?

  • It's never been a problem until now. Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 22:06
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    @ClintEastwood I suspect many people thought it was a problem when debating rather to impeach, or remove, Clinton
    – dsollen
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 22:08
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    My instincts: Impeachment is such a minor thing as far as politics and the nation goes that nobody finds the need to clarify it, and removal from office is such a dire thing that there's value in relying on people to do it rather than laws telling people what to do. No sources on that, though. Just my opinion.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 23:12
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    Is it really unclear? I think the misunderstanding is from frustrations. The Constitution is very clear. To paraphrase: An impeachable offense is anything that the Senate feels is a high crime or misdemeanor. It does not have to be an existing law that has been violated. Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 14:54
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    @FrankCedeno "anything that the Senate feels is a high crime or misdemeanor": is oversimplified to the point of being misleading. Treason and bribery are also explicitly impeachable offenses. Also, the house of representatives must find that the alleged offense is one of those three things before the question is even put before the Senate.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 17:31

1 Answer 1


I'll do my best to answer broadly, but I'd highly suggest better defining your use of the term "serious attempts" for a more precise response.


No proposed amendments concerning impeachment have made it to the ratification process

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

According to the National Archives data set Amending America: Proposed Amendments to the United States Constitution, 1788 to 2014 there have been 17 proposed amendments with the word impeach in their titles or descriptions ranging in date from 1788 to 1989. A quick review narrows the list to 7 that appear to have some proposed impact to the Presidency.

The titles of those 7 are:

  • Courts for trial of impeachments
  • Impeachment
  • Trial of impeachment
  • Trial of impeachments by some tribunal other than the Senate
  • Term of office: Removal: Impeachment
  • Providing for trial and removal of civil officers of United States by means other than impeachment
  • Impeachment, permit conviction upon concurrence of a majority of the Senators present

Congressional Approval and State Ratification

None of these made it through to the states to be ratified

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