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The sun rises over the Senate on the first day of Trump's impeachment hearing, Jan. 21, 2020.

Precedent? Nah, the Senate gets to reinvent its rules in every impeachment.

Carlson is an associate professor of law and adjunct associate professor of political science at Wayne State University.

Everybody seems to be using the word "precedent" right now.

Commentators, the media and even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell use it when they discuss or debate the appropriate procedures for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

The word has multiple meanings, though, so what people mean by "precedent" is often unclear and confusing.

The word "precedent" has a technical legal meaning and a common one.

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"Trump has championed a more expansive view of executive power than most other presidents," argues Kirsten Carlson.

Courts have avoided refereeing between Congress and the president. Now Trump may force them to.

Carlson is an associate professor of law and adjunct associate professor of political science at Wayne State University.

President Trump's refusal to hand over records to Congress and allow executive branch employees to provide information and testimony to Congress during the impeachment battle is the strongest test yet of legal principles that over the past 200 years have not yet been fully defined by the federal courts.

It's not the first test: Struggles over power among the political branches predate our Constitution. The framers chose not to, and probably could not, fully resolve them.

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