The decision by the House Republican leadership to open an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden — without any evidence of wrongdoing — marks a low point in the mis-deployment of the Constitution’s mechanism for removing a sitting president.
Bad as it is, however, the inquiry itself won’t put the nail in the coffin of the impeachment process. Impeachment will only be dead as a useful constitutional tool if House Republicans actually vote to impeach Biden without any credible proof of high crimes and misdemeanors.
The reason the framers of the Constitution gave Congress the power to impeach the president and the Senate the power to try the impeachment was that they feared the dangers of the sitting president manipulating the electoral process to stay in office. As William Richardson Davie of North Carolina put it at the constitutional convention in 1787, if the president couldn’t be impeached, "he will spare no efforts or means whatever to get himself re-elected.” Impeachment, Davie concluded, was therefore "an essential security for the good behavior of the Executive.”