August 27, 2009

What's the Procedure for Impeaching Legislators?

Justin Katz

As a general proposition, Rhode Islanders should be more comfortable in the absence of their legislators, but this is a jaw dropper:

House Speaker William J. Murphy has notified lawmakers in his chamber that the House will not return next week, as originally contemplated, but on Oct. 7 and 8.

It remains unclear what the lawmakers will do when they reconvene, and whether they will be open to considering new legislation, acting on the handful of high-profile bills that languished at the end of the regular session in June, or simply overriding vetoes.

Don't some of the governor's methods of balancing the budget require legislative approval? Won't the cost only grow as time passes with no resolution? Does legislative negligence at some point become criminal?

(Initially spotted by Mike Cappelli.)

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

If you are referring to the $68m fix just announced, only the $32m being withheld from the towns will need legislative approval, and the money comes from the auto tax which I don’t believe would be paid until the 4th quarter.

Posted by: Bill Felkner at August 27, 2009 8:59 PM

Legislators are not subject to impeachment, pursuant to Article 11 of the R.I. Constitution.

Art. 6, sec. 7 provides that either House may expel a member on a two-thirds vote.

Yeah, that'll happen . .

Posted by: brassband at August 27, 2009 9:30 PM

But what's the remedy when you have to expel two-thirds of the legislature?

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 27, 2009 9:38 PM

Brassband is correct. Impeachment is only (as is often the case) something which the legislature can do to others in the executive or judicial branches, not to itself. While the House or Senate can, with 2/3's vote expel a member, it almost never happens, because usually said legislator has the good sense to resign first (Celona, Irons).

Of course, there is no "recall" provision for the populace to remove legislators either.

PS Sometimes, I wish Thomas Wilson Dorr was still around.

Posted by: Will at August 27, 2009 10:23 PM

The simple fact is, in a democracy, the voters get the government they deserve.

Posted by: David at August 28, 2009 12:36 AM
"But what's the remedy when you have to expel two-thirds of the legislature?"

Hmm, let me think . . .

Oh, I remember; it's called an election!

We got 'em every two years, remember?

And most members of the GA run unopposed, or with token opposition, right?

Can you blame them for acting like the public doesn't care what they do?

Posted by: brassband at August 28, 2009 6:11 AM

"The simple fact is, in a democracy, the voters get the government they deserve."

If by "the voters", you mean "the majority of the voting population", then this is perhaps true.

But what about the 49% of the voting population and the entire non-voting population who may or may not deserve the government they get?

Posted by: Dan at August 28, 2009 12:54 PM

Big deal. Murphy plays the social conservative card again, and all is forgiven here. That seems to be how it works.
We who don't like Murphy very much amd are tried of his arrogance are not going to be played for suckers.

Posted by: rhody at August 28, 2009 3:38 PM

Murphy WILL have a Democratic opponent next election.

He has done nothing for his town nor the state!

Posted by: Biagio at August 28, 2009 4:11 PM


I'm not sure the state can hold together until the next election, but of course, there's a tongue-in-cheek quality to my line of questioning.



That's another of your favorite quips that has no basis in fact. Show me a single instance of my excusing Murphy because of his stand on social issues.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 28, 2009 4:55 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.