The hyper-partisanship of American politics has made it increasingly difficult to imagine two-thirds of the Senate voting to convict a President, even for egregious abuses.
The historical record reveals little about the rationale behind one of the most crucial decisions the Framers of the U.S. Constitution made on impeachment: that two-thirds of the Senate must agree to remove the President.
That requirement was a departure from the British model, in which the House of Commons brings charges and the House of Lords hears cases but only a simple majority is required for conviction.
In the original Constitution, only a handful of other actions were bound to a supermajority: overriding Presidential vetoes, the approval of treaties, expelling members of Congress, and proposing constitutional amendments.
In Federalist No. 58, James Madison wrote that requiring more than a majority for certain decisions can serve “as an additional shield to some particular interests, and another obstacle generally to hasty and partial measures.” […]
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