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1971]

IMPEACHMENT

399

of District Judge Halsted Ritter in 1936 serve as an example. Ritter
was convicted under article 7 of the articles of impeachment, which
charged that he had received large gifts from substantial property-holders
in his district, though it was not alleged that they had cases
pending before him. The charge was that he "was guilty of misbehavior
and of high crimes and misdemeanors in office," and that the consequence
of his action "as an individual and such judge, is to bring his
court into scandal and disrepute, to the prejudice of said court and
public confidence in the administration of justice therein, and to the
prejudice of public respect and confidence in the Federal judiciary
and to render him unfit to serve as such judge." Hatton Sumners,
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who was perhaps the
leading Manager of the impeachment for the House, emphasized, "We
do not assume the responsibility . . . of proving that the respondent
. . . is guilty of a crime as that term is known to criminal jurisprudence.
We do assume the rcsporuibility of bringing before you a case,
proven facts, the reasonable and probable consequences of which are
to cause people to doubt the integrity of the respondent presiding as a
judge. . . . " By its judgment of guilty the Senate ratified that claim.16

To derive from the undeniably criminal terminology of the impeachment
and associated provisions the proposition that impeachment
may be based on non-criminal conduct is somewhat startling,17
and one may therefore be indulged in the inquiry whether the convictions
by the Senate have constitutional warrant. And if impeachment
be in fact the sole avenue for removal of judges, we ought to know
more about its elements and scope than can be derived from the cryptic
_______________________________________________________________________
(1829); STORY, supra note 12, at § 800; 2 G. CURTIS, HISTORY OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE
UNITED STATES 260-62 (1858); SIMPSON, supra, at 41-43; OTIS, supra, at 33; Potts, Impeachment
as a Remedy,
12 ST. LOUIS L. REV. 15, 23-26 (1927); ten Broek, Partisan Politics
and Federal Judgeship Impeachment Since 1903,
23 MINN. L. REV. 185, 193-94 (1958).
16. 80 CONG. REC. 5385, 5606, 5469 (1936).
17. So Seasoned a scholar as Charles Warren said of the Chase proceedings, "Its
gravest aspect lay in the theory which the Republican leaders in the House had adopted,
that impeachment was not a criminal proceeding but only a method of removal, the
ground for which need not be a crime or misdemeanor as these terms were commonly
understood." I WARREN, supra note 15, at 293. On the other hand, Henry Adams earlier
stated that a conclusion restricting impeachment "to misdemeanors, indictable at law" is
"not to be resisted if the words of the Constitution were to be understood in a legal sense,"
but he considered that "Such a rule would have made impeachment worthless for many
cases where it was most likely to be needed; for comparatively few violations of official
duty, however fatal to the State, could be brought within this definition." ADAMS, supra
note 15, at 223. He thought it an absurdity that "unless a judge committed some indictable
offense the people were powerless to protect themselves." Id. at 155-56.

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