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Laurence Tribe

Author of The Invisible Constitution

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About the Author

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Works by Laurence Tribe

Associated Works

A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law (1997) — Contributor — 346 copies
American Government: Readings and Cases (1977) — Contributor, some editions — 246 copies
Reason and Passion: Justice Brennan's Enduring Influence (1997) — Contributor — 17 copies
Sources: Notable Selections in American Government (1996) — Contributor — 10 copies


Common Knowledge



Laurence Tribe is a professor at Harvard Law School who specializes in constitutional law. Among his many publications is the seminal treatise, American Constitutional Law. Joshua Matz, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has collaborated with Tribe in a previous book, Uncertain Justice. Singly and together, they know whereof they speak when they discuss constitutional law.

In To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment, Tribe and Matz once again collaborate on an especially important legal issue of the day. Or perhaps I should say, “political issue,” because they themselves admit there is very little law governing impeachment, and what there is, is not terribly precise.

This book, published in 2018, treats impeachment from a largely historical perspective. They do not believe the Constitution calls for a simple trial to determine whether “bribery, treason, high crimes or misdemeanors” occurred as a matter of law, followed by a yes-or-no vote which then either acquits or finds the president guilty as charged. Instead, they see the process as one that calls for political rather than legal judgment at every step of the procedure, from the decision of the House of Representatives to charge an impeachment, through the “trial” where the Senate sits in judgement.

They argue that Congress has the responsibility to weigh the potential bad consequences of an impeachment (e.g., will it initiate a civil war?; will it empower an even more incompetent or corrupt vice president?) against the need to remove a bad actor from the highest office of the land. They emphasize the power of Congress to refrain from acting even in the face of technically and legally impeachable acts. Moreover, they stress that impeachment was meant to be a very big deal, not to be undertaken lightly.

Yet, as any regular viewer of MSNBC or CNN knows, currently Tribe is vigorously advocating the impeachment and removal from office of Donald Trump. For one thing, the book was published in 2018, before the details of the Ukraine scandal became known. More importantly, the authors’ historical analysis showed that Trump’s behavior probably merited impeachment even without reference to Ukraine. On Tribe’s twitter feed (@tribelaw) he now says of Trump’s behavior (in particular, firing the national intelligence chief for speaking about Russia’s preference for Trump and interference in our elections on his behalf):

“This truly looks like TREASON in all but the narrowest possible sense. If confirmed, it’s utterly devastating. It points to an enemy of the nation sitting in the White House. This cannot stand if we are to survive as a sovereign constitutional republic.”

Evaluation: To End a Presidency is an excellent, crisply written analysis of the history and state of the law of impeachment in the early 21st Century. It should have been required reading for all the talking heads who covered the proceedings on television.

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nbmars | 6 other reviews | Mar 2, 2020 |
This is an excellent look at the issue of impeachment from both a historical and political perspective. The authors provide the reader with a great deal of important and insightful information on this legislative power, as well as advice on when to use it and when not to. It was written before Trump was impeached, but it was almost scary how accurate the authors were when they predicted what the outcome of such an impeachment effort would be based on the composition of the Senate and the mood of the country. They point out that sometimes the only remedy is for the American people to vote which we will do this year. I highly recommend this book!… (more)
Susan.Macura | 6 other reviews | Feb 28, 2020 |
Excellent examination of the difficulties and perils of impeachment.
wwj | 6 other reviews | Jun 14, 2019 |


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