Judiciary Committee Co-Chairman Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, tried to clarify the legislature’s ability to ouster Senate Minority Leader Louis DeLuca, R-Woodbury, should it wish to address the issue.
The Connecticut Constitution does not allow for the impeachment of members of the General Assembly, Lawlor said Monday in response to a number of news reports and editorials that have recently called for or speculated about the possible impeachment of a senator.
Lawlor explained that under the Connecticut Constitution, only “the governor, and all other executive and judicial officers” can be impeached.
However, he said, Article III, Section 13 of the state constitution provides that a legislator can be expelled or punished by a two-thirds vote of the chamber in which that legislator is a member.
“The impeachment an officer from the executive or judicial branch would require a hearing in the House of Representatives followed by a majority vote in the House. If the House votes to impeach, then there would then be a full trial in the Senate. Following the trial, removal from office would then require a two-thirds vote by the Senate,” he said.
“However, in the case of a legislator, only the body in which that legislator resides can punish or expel them. Either case would require a two-thirds vote by that chamber alone,” Lawlor said.
According to the non-partisan Office of Legislative Research, while no legislator has ever been expelled, the only legislator to be punished was former State Representative Russell Reynolds, who was censured and reprimanded by the House in 1980 after making a racist remark in a written press questionnaire. A resolution of expulsion had been considered in that case, but was never acted upon.
“Under our state constitution, a member of the House of Representatives can only be expelled or punished by the House, and a member of the Senate can only be expelled or punished by the Senate,” Lawlor said. “These procedures are very similar to the ones used in Congress under Article 1, Section 5 of the United States Constitution.”