Hillary Clinton: Law, Politics and Govt

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: One week


William Jefferson Clinton was one of three Presdents of the United States against whom impeachment proceedings were instituted or threatened under Constitutional provisions for removing a President (or other high official, or judge).  The stories behind each case were different, but the sense of crisis each case brought to the nation was very similar.


Students who participate in this activity will study the impeachment proceedings against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and William Clinton, comparing and contrasting the individual cases, and deciding whether, in each case, the presidential behavior rose to the level of "Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet.


1.  Engage students in a discussion about the meaning of the term, "impeachment."  Clear up any misunderstandings about the concept.

2.  Divide the class into three groups, assigning each group the study of one of the nation's impeachment cases:

  • Andrew Johnson
  • Richard Nixon
  • William Clinton

3.  Ask each group to compile a "brief" on its case, including (but not limited to) the following elements:

  • Background of the case
  • Societal factors at work in the case
  • Important "actors" in the case: names and descriptions of roles
  • Popular conceptions of the case
  • Political dimensions of the case
  • Resolution of the case

4.  When the research is complete, each group should present its "brief" to the rest of the class, including its conclusions about whether or not impreachment proceedings had been justified.

5.  After all "briefs" have been presented, the whole class should vote on whether each case was justified, and, if not, why not.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson can be extended by asking students to consider the possibility that behavior of other Presidents (e.g., John Adams signing the Alien and Sedition Act, Abraham Lincoln suspending habeas corpus during the Civil War, Franklin D. Roosevelt's internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, etc.) could have led to impeachment proceedings and whether that would have been justified.

Sources & Resources:


The Case of Andrew Johnson

The Case of Richard Nixon

The Case of William Clinton



This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.