Flames from the Governor Mark Sanford controversy have died down. A rally calling for Sanford’s impeachment at the statehouse Thursday was attended by less than 80 people. Most Democrats and Republicans have stopped commenting on the issue. Governor Sanford has said that he has no intention of resigning. But it’s never-the-less important to understand the process of impeachment.If Sanford would resign or be removed from office, the Lt. Governor would take the Governor’s seat for the remainder of his term. But the proceedings leading up to that would be time-consuming, according to Dr. James Underwood, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the USC Law School.
Underwood, an expert on constitutional law, says the steps taken by the General Assembly for impeachment would be a two-part process. “There’s an accusatory phase by the House of Representatives. That would require a two-thirds vote. And they would have to find that the governor committed serious misconduct in office.”
If the House found that the governor had committed serious misconduct in office, then it would go to the Senate for a trial. “If he’s convicted by the Senate, he would be removed from office. During the trial, the Lt. Governor would be Acting Governor, because the Governor would be suspended.”
The Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court would preside over the Senate trial.
Dr. Underwood says some constitutional experts argue that the Statewide Grand Jury has the right to indict the governor and remove him from office, but Underwood says that issue is unresolved.