Republicans abandon constitutional originalism at impeachment hearing

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment today, two months into an inquiry into US president Donald Trump’s Ukraine dealings. The featured witnesses were four constitutional law scholars.

Naturally, the hearing focused on the framers’ intent when writing the foundational legal document. Usually, that’s an approach to legal analysis that Republicans embrace, indeed it’s the basis of their favorite legal philosophy, originalism. Yet, today, the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Doug Collins, mocked the mandate underlying the philosophy.

During the hearing, three scholars testified that the president committed impeachable offenses, including bribery, abuse of power, and obstruction of justice. They were Harvard law professor Noah Feldman—who was previously an impeachment skeptic, he said—Pamela Karlan of Stanford University, and Michale Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina.

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