For weeks, arguments have raged over President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. Many of those arguments have featured the word “precedent.” Should the trial follow the Clinton impeachment trial’s precedent? Will Trump’s trial set a new and toxic precedent for future presidents?

Scholar Kirsten Carlson of Wayne State University Law School explains that the word has multiple definitions. She digs into those meanings, separating the word’s use in a legal setting from its more common use, to help you better understand what all those politicians and pundits really mean.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., during debate over rules for the Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump, Jan. 21, 2020. Senate Television via AP

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

Kirsten Carlson, Wayne State University

Certain words are being used over and over during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. One of them is 'precedent.' What does it really mean?

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