The Politics of Presidential Impeachment

By Daniel P. Franklin, Stanley M. Caress, Robert M. Sanders, and Cole D. Taratoot

Subjects: Political Science, Constitutional Studies, Public Policy, Congressional Studies, American History
Series: SUNY series in American Constitutionalism
Paperback : 9781438480046, 268 pages, January 2021
Hardcover : 9781438480039, 268 pages, August 2020

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

1. Impeachment: Safeguard or Political Weapon?

2. Methods: Analyzing Presidential Impeachment

3. The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson

4. The Impeachment and Resignation of Richard Nixon

5. Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra Affair

6. The Impeachment of Bill Clinton

7. Conclusion: The Politics of Impeachment

Postscript: The Trump Impeachment


Argues that impeachment may no longer be an effective check on overreach by American presidents.


The Politics of Presidential Impeachment takes a distinctive and fresh look at the impeachment provision of the US Constitution. Instead of studying it from a legal-constitutional perspective, the authors use a social science approach incorporating extensive case studies and quantitative analysis. Focusing on four presidents who faced impeachment processes—Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton—they examine the conditions under which presidential impeachment is likely to occur and argue that partisanship and the evolving relationship between Congress and the president determine its effectiveness as an institutional constraint. They find that, in our contemporary political context, the propensity of Congress to utilize the impeachment tool is more likely, but given the state of heightened partisanship, impeachment is less likely to result in removal of a president. The authors conclude that impeachment is no longer a credible threat and thus no longer an effective tool in the arsenal of checks and balances. The book also offers a postscript that discusses the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.

Daniel P. Franklin is Associate Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Georgia State University and author of Pitiful Giants: Presidents in Their Final Terms. Stanley M. Caress (1951–2016) was Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of West Georgia and coauthor (with Todd T. Kunioka) of Term Limits and Their Consequences: The Aftermath of Legislative Reform, also published by SUNY Press. Robert M. Sanders is Professor of Political Science at the University of West Georgia. Cole D. Taratoot received his PhD in political science from Georgia State University.


"Writing a book on the politics of presidential impeachment in the Trump era is a monumental and necessary undertaking … Overall, the book provides a welcome addition to the literature and helps push forward our understanding of the political nature of impeachment." — Congress & the Presidency

"Written by political scientists utilizing a strong historical approach and introducing a useful matrix for analysis, this book stands out." — Michael A. Genovese, coauthor of The Paradoxes of the American Presidency, Fifth Edition