If a president is impeached, removed from office, and barred from running again, could a future congress or president reinstate his ability to run for office again?

I'm imagining a case in which both houses are dominated by Party A, the president, from Party B, is impeached and removed, and then some time later control of both houses goes back to Party B. Could Party B reinstate his ability to hold office again?

2 Answers 2


Probably not

There is no provision for such restoration in the US Constitution, and there is a specific provision for an impeachment and removal denying the removed person any future ability to hold office. Article I section 3 says (in relevant part):

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Note that impeachment is an exception to the presidential pardon power. Thus a President explicitly cannot undo a past impeachment and removal.

Impeachment and removal seems to have been thought of as a special kind of crime, with the Senate acting as a Court. (The exception to the pardon power supports this. If it were thought of as a recall from office, a pardon would not be applicable.) If so the disqualification would be considered part of the sentence. It is not usual to overturn criminal judgements by legislative act.

However, all that can be said for sure is that no Congress has ever passed a bill or resolution reversing a previous impeachment, so there has been no occasion form any court to rule on the effectiveness of such an action by Congress.

  • 1
    An impeachment could certainly be undone by constitutional amendment.
    – phoog
    Jan 11, 2021 at 0:16
  • @phoog Could it? Perhaps.But as a practical matter such an amendment seems rather unlikely. Jan 11, 2021 at 1:04
  • @DavidSiegel Well, in the sense that anything can be done by constitutional amendment; abolish the 1st Amendment, cancel elections, anything. Jan 12, 2021 at 23:03
  • Of course, someone with that degree of political support is unlikely to have been impeached in the first place. Jan 13, 2021 at 0:30
  • Unlikely indeed, I agree.
    – phoog
    Jan 13, 2021 at 0:45

There is no appeal.

Of course, there are, as always, exceptions. The Constitution says the Senate "has the sole Power to try all Impeachments", but then the Supreme Court is the one to interpret the Constitution. If the Supreme Court decides an impeachment was invalid it could be undone.

Similarly, the Senate - which has the sole power of impeachment - can introduce an appeal process and thus undo a previous conviction, but it's possible the Supreme Court would get involved.

And finally, there's always the constitutional amendment.

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