The House impeached Trump very last 7 days, for the second time, in a 232-197 vote for “incitement of insurrection” next the assault on the Capitol by a professional-Trump mob that still left 5 people lifeless. As the impeachment approach moves into its subsequent phase in the Senate, the signatories of the letter are in search of to counter an argument that has been attaining steam between some Republican senators: that it would be unconstitutional for the Senate to hold an impeachment demo for Trump now that he is a personal citizen.

“The Senate lacks constitutional authority to carry out impeachment proceedings against a previous president,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said in a assertion previous week. “The Founders developed the impeachment method as a way to clear away officeholders from community office—not an inquest in opposition to non-public citizens.”

A lot of Republicans have taken a cue from the conservative former federal appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig, who argued in the Washington Submit previously this thirty day period that “once Trump’s expression ends on Jan. 20, Congress loses its constitutional authority to continue on impeachment proceedings in opposition to him — even if the Household has currently authorised articles of impeachment.”

The constitutional scholars who signed on to the letter disagree with that assessment, arguing that because the Constitution’s impeachment electric power has two elements — elimination from workplace and disqualification from holding business all over again in the upcoming — it have to also be prolonged to former officers who could attempt to run for reelection.

“Impeachment is the unique constitutional suggests for eliminating a president (or other officer) right before his or her term expires,” they wrote. “But very little in the provision authorizing impeachment-for-elimination limits impeachment to cases where by it accomplishes removing from business office. In fact, such a examining would thwart and likely nullify a important facet of the impeachment electrical power: the ability of the Senate to impose disqualification from potential workplace as a penalty for conviction.”

Trump had signaled just before leaving office environment that he may possibly check out to run for president again in 2024, and has reportedly mulled forming his individual political celebration. But if the Senate have been to maintain an impeachment demo and convict him, he would be barred from holding public workplace ever again. That provision of the impeachment electrical power, the legal students wrote, “is an crucial deterrent in opposition to foreseeable future misconduct.”

“If an formal could only be disqualified although he or she still held business office, then an formal who betrayed the general public belief and was impeached could stay clear of accountability merely by resigning one particular moment just before the Senate’s final conviction vote,” they noted. “The Framers did not style the Constitution’s checks and balances to be so effortlessly undermined.”