So, lets say a certain wig-wearing candidate were elected president, and he decided to (contrary to certain campaign promises) not commit several violations of the constitution into law; Lets say he was a fantastic president, and brought peace and harmony to all individuals, regardless of race, sex, creed, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, blah blah blah...

Obviously, this would anger the portion of the population that elected him immensely. They would probably call for impeachment, but the president wouldn't have committed any crimes, just broken a long lost of campaign promises.

Is there any recourse to remove a dissatisfactory* president from office if he has broken no laws?

*dissatisfactory can mean anythings, and it's definition is of course subjective not object, but this question is about when the majority believes the subject interpretation

  • 2
    One could argue that's what they tried to do with Clinton (remove by any means necessary) but no, there's no requirement that one must obey campaign promises.
    – user1530
    Jan 7, 2016 at 19:27
  • 1
    I would think that the sheer number of federal regulations is so large that no human being could serve as president without violating at least one of them.
    – emory
    Jan 7, 2016 at 23:56
  • The fact this was posted in 2016 makes it much better. Dec 17, 2019 at 17:38
  • 1
    @user253751 It was actually based on the idea that there would be a "presidential pivot" and he would start acting more "presidential" if/when he won (ergo losing his appeal to the people who were/are his most ardent supporters). Those were simpler times.
    – Sidney
    Dec 17, 2019 at 17:50
  • @Sidney Yes, that's why I say it's much better. If you wrote this question now, it would just be another hypothetical scenario. If you wrote this question just before Trump got elected, then it's funny that this was considered a possibility. Dec 17, 2019 at 17:53

3 Answers 3


There is recourse: impeachment.

The Constitution allows presidents to be removed if the House of Representatives votes on articles of impeachment, and if two-thirds of the Senate, after a trial, votes to convict. Though the Constitution specifies that impeachment is for "treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors", the Supreme Court has determined in Nixon v. US that the specifics of the impeachment process constitute a political question.

In other words, it is up to Congress to decide whether it has followed the Constitutional impeachment procedure -- including whether the President is being tried for a "high crime [or] misdemeanor". Gerald Ford expressed this view when, as a Senator, he was attempting to impeach Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. According to Ford:

An impeachable offense is basically whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.

Of course, as that article shows, not everyone agrees with Ford's Constitutional interpretation. And indeed, if the term "high crimes and misdemeanors" were subject to judicial review, there wouldn't be a means of removing a President for extralegal reasons; the only means of removal from office the Constitution provides for the President is impeachment. But since Nixon v. US, the Court has made it clear that it will let Congress decide what warrants impeachment.

  • 2
    This is generally correct, except that the Senate doesn't decide whether or not to impeach. They decide what to do with someone the House has impeached. The house has sole impeachment power, see article one: "The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."
    – De Novo
    Nov 9, 2018 at 20:21

just broken a long lost of campaign promises.

In that context, the system for removing that candidate is call term limits. Politicians are automatically up for removal every so often. If their constituency decided they broke a lot of promises, this is where they get to voice their opinion and vote someone else in (and in tern, voting this person out).

  • For some offices, we can have recall elections, but I don't believe that's available for President. Sep 30, 2018 at 22:00
  • 3
    A term limit refers to how many terms they can hold, not how long a term is.
    – Golden Cuy
    Sep 24, 2019 at 21:57

Short a Constitutional Amendment to allow for the recall of a sitting President, no.

So, the path to removing a President starts with Article V of the US Constitution.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .