Qualified Tenure: Presidential Removal of the FBI Director is an article written by Leah A. Hamlin which was published in the Ohio Northern University Law Review. It addresses the question of whether the President’s power to remove an FBI director is limited by the 10-year term instituted by Congress, and whether it may, constitutionally, be further limited by Congress. Hamlin ultimately concludes:
that the ten-year term does not limit the president’s ability to remove the director at will, and that, given the importance of the FBI director to the effective functioning of a unitary executive, Congress may not limit the president’s removal power without infringing on the separation of powers limits laid out in case law.
This question is especially significant, of course, in light of the firing of James Comey which was met with such outrage, and which some believe could constitute obstruction of justice. Though Hamlin concludes that Congress cannot not interfere with the President’s removal power, it is doubtful that her conclusion would extend so far as to suggest that Congress could not wield its impeachment power in wake of a removal which constitutes a high crime or misdemeanor.
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