ArtI.S3.C6.1.3.2 Requirement of Oath or Affirmation

Article I, Section 3, Clause 6:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

The Constitution requires Senators sitting as an impeachment tribunal to take a special oath distinct from the oath of office that all Members of Congress must take.1 This requirement underscores the unique nature of the role the Senate plays in impeachment trials, at least in comparison to its normal deliberative functions.2 The Senate practice has been to require each Senator to swear or affirm that he will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.3 The oath was originally adopted by the Senate before proceedings in the impeachment of Senator Blount in 1798 and has remained largely unchanged since.4

Footnotes

  1.  Jump to essay-1U.S. Const. art. I, § 3, cl. 6.
  2.  Jump to essay-2See Charles Black, Impeachment 9–10 (1974).
  3.  Jump to essay-3See Procedure and Guidelines for Impeachment Trials in the Senate, S. Doc. No. 93-33, 99th Cong., 2d Sess., at 61 (1986).
  4.  Jump to essay-4See Senate Adopts First Impeachment Rules, U.S. Senate, https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Senate_Adopts_First_Impeachment_Rules.htm (last visited Jan. 24, 2018).