How impeachment in Texas differs from the process outlined in the U.S. Constitution

In an unanimous decision, a Republican-led House investigative committee that spent months quietly looking into Attorney General Ken Paxton recommended impeaching the state’s top lawyer. The state House of Representatives could vote on the recommendation as soon as Friday. If the House impeaches Paxton, he would be forced to leave office immediately.

What does impeachment mean in Texas?

  • Impeachment means starting the process of removing from office a public official because of serious misconduct and abuse of power. It is comparable to a criminal indictment.

  • Only the Texas House of Representatives has the power to impeach in Texas. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, Texas has no list of impeachable offenses such as “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” But the courts have ruled that the meaning of “impeachment” in the Texas Constitution aligns with American and English parliamentary rules that include offenses and procedures.

Who can be impeachedin Texas?

  • These are the state officilas who can be impeached by the House: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Commissioner of the General Land Office, Comptroller and the Judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and District Court.

What is the court of impeachment in Texas?

  • The Senate accepts the articles of impeachment from the House. Then it meets in a court of impeachment for a trial. It is up to the Senate to determine the day and time of the trial. The body may decide to go over the time allotted to the current session.

  • If the Senate is not in session, the House will deliver by messenger or certified mail the articles of impeachment to the governor, lieutenant governor and every senator. Then a date will be set for the Senate to reconvene.

  • Every member of the Senate must attend the court of impeachment.

  • Like any court, the court of impeachment in the Senate may compel testimony and send for “persons, papers, books and other documents.”

  • A two thirds vote of the Senate is needed to convict.