President Clinton was the first President to be impeached since Andrew Johnson in 1868. The impeachment emerged-nearly out of the blue-from judicial proceedings in which President Clinton was a party. Two constitutional questions running through these events-the scope of impeachment and the exposure of a sitting President to compulsory judicial process-had received extensive scrutiny during the Watergate affair. From that misadventure, which led to President Nixon's resignation in 1974, survived a body of conventional academic wisdom and specific legal precedent on both questions. On impeachment, the academic consensus at the onset of the recent proceedings was that impeachable offenses are defined in the Constitution as "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors," the latter terms describing an imprecisely bounded category of serious offenses. The President's exposure to compulsory judicial process, for its part, had been established definitively in United States v. Nixon.
"Impeachment and Presidential Immunity from Judicial Process,"
Yale Law & Policy Review:
1, Article 3.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylpr/vol18/iss1/3