Op-ed: Senator Rick Scott
February 6, 2020
If given the chance, the House may pursue partisan impeachment again. We simply cannot let that happen. Impeachment must be taken seriously.
Our Founding Fathers feared that impeachment would be used as a partisan tool by partisan actors. In Federalist No. 65, Alexander Hamilton warned that “in many cases (impeachment) will connect itself with the preexisting factions and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence and interest on one side or on the other.”
In the impeachment of President Donald Trump, their fears have been realized.
I believe it’s time to raise the simple majority threshold in the House of Representatives to approve impeachment articles and send them to the Senate for trial.
Thursday, I’m introducing a constitutional amendment that would require a supermajority vote of three-fifths in the House to impeach a public official. Our country should never again suffer through the kind of partisan charade that has consumed Washington over the past several months.
I believe this amendment adheres to the true purpose and intention of the impeachment process laid out in our constitution.
Opportunistic politicians must be kept in check
It was paramount to the founding of our country that a process be created to address monarchic abuses, like those we had just fought a revolution to free ourselves from. But with that process comes the possibility that partisan factions will use impeachment as a tool of the majority, rather than as a last resort against tyrants.
We all remember House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement last March: “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.”
Yet when the final vote in the House came to impeach President Trump, not a single Republican voted to approve the articles. In fact, it was only the opposition to the impeachment charade that received bipartisan support in the House.
Hamilton went on to say in Federalist No. 65 that “in such cases, there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt."
To address these concerns, the Founders put the Senate, the deliberative body that George Washington was said to have called the saucer that cools the tea of state, in charge of an impeachment trial and created a higher threshold — a two-thirds majority — to convict a president of impeachable offenses.
But Pelosi’s impeachment circus has shown that bad-faith partisans will use the impeachment process as a tool to hurt their political opponents, no matter the outcome of the Senate trial. It’s a dangerous precedent. House majorities have no reason to prove — or even attempt to prove — their case if their goal is to simply use impeachment as a political attack against the president.
The abuse of today's politicians couldn't have been predicted
The genius of our Founders cannot be overstated. But even they could not foresee the partisan hackery of a House speaker like Nancy Pelosi.
She handed out commemorative pens and fist-bumped Bill Maher on his HBO show after the House vote to approve the impeachment articles, a day she laughably called “a sad day.” In a further display of statesmanship Tuesday, the speaker made a public showing of physically ripping up a printed copy of the president’s State of the Union speech on national television.
She bragged that no matter what happened in the Senate trial, Donald Trump has been “impeached for life,” while her counterpart in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said that “the acquittal will have no value.”
The fact of the matter is, Democrats hate Donald Trump and have been working to impeach him since Day One of his administration. They don’t care what the charges are. They don’t care what the Senate does. They don’t care that the American people elected him president in 2016 in an Electoral College landslide. This is nothing but a political attack.
It’s wrong, and the process needs to change.
It should be harder — much harder — for either political party to take the process our Founders created as a last resort against a tyrannical leader and use it instead as a tool for the tyranny of a political majority.
Rick Scott is a Republican senator from Florida. Follow him on Twitter: @SenRickScott