The political chaos of the past year has stirred up a whirlwind of questions surrounding the privileges and accountability of our highest executive. Congress has concluded the current inquiry, but we are left with more questions than answers. Although the founders of this nation gave considerable thought to the possibility of presidential wrong-doing, the past two hundred years have done little to improve our understanding of the delicate balance of power, privilege, and accountability inherent in the nation’s highest office. As we struggle to come to terms with the nation’s only impeachment trial of an elected president, it is evident that the judicial, legislative, and executive branches must gain a more concrete understanding of the complex and interrelated notions of presidential immunity and impeachment. A careful examination of the relevant constitutional texts, the framers’ original intent, and a more consistent and logical judicial interpretation of presidential privilege help define the scopes of impeachment and immunity. Although the dilemma of presidential privilege presents a unique challenge for a nation founded on the belief that no individual is above the law, the constitutional provisions for addressing presidential wrong-doing through impeachment should serve as a guide in answering the delicate questions of privilege.
Gina Cesaretti, ’99 Brooklyn Park, MN
Majors: Politics, Psychology
Sponsor: Craig Allin