Two impeachment articles were drafted by the House and then sent to the Senate

  • Abuse of Power
  • Obstruction of Congress.

Now say the senate looks at the original articles and underlying evidence and acquits the president.

Then later on, the House discovers more evidence which makes for a much tighter case and again draft the same articles (with different evidence) and sends to the senate.

Can the senate dismiss the charges due to double jeopardy since they already acquitted the president on the same charges for the same situation?

  • This is a duplicate of a prior question at Politics.SE. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/16554/…
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 20, 2020 at 22:39
  • 2
    @ohwilleke isn't politics still a beta site? It's no secret that I am not a fan of that site (and I called for its removal from the SE on multiple occasions). However, simply from the point of view of SE's wishing to remain a repository of knowledge, a question should not be closed if its duplicate can be found on a beta site.
    – grovkin
    Jan 20, 2020 at 22:49

1 Answer 1


Double jeopardy in its usual sense wouldn't attach because impeachment is not a criminal proceeding, which is the only thing double jeopardy applies to (esoteric estoppel matters not withstanding). You might recall that OJ Simpson was tried and acquitted of murder in a criminal court, and then subsequently tried and found liable in a civil court for those murders. There was no double jeopardy protections of which he could avail himself.

But the constitution says that the Senate shall have the sole power to try impeachments, so for the most part we can expect that whatever they say goes. So they can dismiss for any reason they desire, in principle. The impeachment of Senator Blount is one example: the House impeached him, and on the same day the Senate expelled him under their constitutional power to do so, and then dismissed the impeachment for lack of jurisdiction (arguing that Congress members cannot be impeached; the impeachment was otherwise still relevant after his expulsion because it could result in preventing him from gaining office again). The costs here are political: in your hypothetical situation with very strong evidence, if popular opinion turns too strongly in favor of conviction then refusal to do so may cost the Senators and their party in subsequent elections. Attempts to argue arcane technicalities might not save you at the ballot box.

Under existing impeachment precedent (as well as Congressional rules precedents), the courts would be loathe to get involved by default. Though if the action was sufficiently egregious (not even superficially resembling what a judge might call a trial, say) maybe they would feel judicial intervention and action was warranted and justified. But that's purely speculative.

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    At a guess, if the judiciary intervened they would probably limit themselves to telling the Senate to go back and do it properly
    – Dale M
    Jan 20, 2020 at 2:28
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    @DaleM I doubt that the Supreme Court would conclude that they can force the Senate to do anything. If the impeachment trial resulted in an conviction they could instead rule that what the Senate did was invalid and unconstitutional and so the office holder retains their office. They could then give the Senate the option to go back and do it properly. If the result was an acquittal or dismissal then I can't see the Supreme Court having any effective remedy.
    – Ross Ridge
    Jan 20, 2020 at 19:48
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    @RossRidge I'd say you have the severity backwards, but when it comes to a President it's nothing but minefields all the way down for the Judiciary. They'd effectively be stepping in to say "No, this person gets to be President" in a way that's far more severe than Bush v. Gore ever was. Especially if it was a conviction, as the VP would have already assumed the office of the President at the instant of the conviction, and any (court) wrangling over who is "really" President creates severe issues for the entire nation. Jan 20, 2020 at 19:54
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    @zibadawatimmy Regardless, the only effective remedy the courts would have would be to reverse an conviction.
    – Ross Ridge
    Jan 20, 2020 at 20:11
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    @DaleM I think the judiciary stepping in any way into an impeachment creates a constitutional crisis. So I doubt the judiciary would be willing to do that at all. Jan 21, 2020 at 17:22

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