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Democrats like California Gavin Newsom have had a change of heart on states' rights, according to Amherst College professor Austin Sarat.

While fighting the virus, liberals rally behind states' rights banner

Sarat is a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College.

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Our weakened democracy may be made even weaker by coronavirus

Sarat is a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College.

Responding to its place at the center of the coronavirus pandemic, New York has now joined 13 other states in postponing presidential primaries. Where elections have gone forward, fears of disease exposure have depressed same-day turnout. President Trump is exercising broad emergency powers. Though masked by last week's votes for the economic rescue package, the political system still is awash in hyper-partisanship. Congress is unlikely to check executive branch overreach in a bipartisan way.

Commentators and public officials are rightly concerned about the toll the new coronavirus is taking on democratic processes in the United States.

The problems caused by the current crisis have been layered on top of ongoing voter suppression efforts, partisan gerrymandering and the flood of big money into political campaigns. All are signs that American democracy is in trouble. Thus today it is easy to find headlines asking "Is democracy dying?"

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"So even if President Trump were impeached and convicted, there is the possibility that he could be reelected to the same office from which he had been removed," writes Austin Sarat.

Could President Trump be impeached and convicted – but also reelected?

The ConversationSarat is a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College.

The launching of an "official impeachment inquiry" into President Donald Trump's conduct has sailed America into largely uncharted waters.

While there have been demands for the impeachment of many presidents, just three previous ones – Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton – have faced formal impeachment inquiries, and the Senate convicted none of them. None of those three sought reelection.

After Johnson's acquittal, he was denied his party's presidential nomination. Nixon and Clinton were in their second terms already and could not run for reelection.

Trump, however, is already doing so.

As a scholar of American legal and political history, I have studied the precedents for dealing with this strange conundrum. A little-known wrinkle in the Constitution might allow Trump to be reelected president in 2020 even if he is removed from office through the impeachment process.

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