Former U.S. Rep. Thomas F. Railsback, an Illinois Republican who helped draw up articles of impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, died Jan. 20 in Mesa, Ariz. He was 87.

Former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood, an ex-staffer who also became a Republican congressman from Illinois, announced the death. The cause was not immediately available.

Mr. Railsback represented his state’s 19th Congressional District for 16 years and was the second-ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee when it was conducting the impeachment inquiry into Nixon. The inquiry was prompted by Nixon’s actions in the wake of the 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building in Washington.

Mr. Railsback credited Nixon with helping him win election to Congress in 1966 by campaigning for him in western Illinois.

“I feel badly about what happened to Nixon,” Mr. Railsback told the Idaho Statesman in 2012. “On the other hand, after listening to the [White House] tapes and seeing all the evidence, it was something we had to do because the evidence was there.”

Thomas Fisher Railsback was born Jan. 22, 1932, in Moline, Ill. He was a 1954 graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa and received a law degree from Northwestern University in 1957. He served in the Army before entering legal practice, then served for four years in the Illinois House of Representatives. He defeated freshman Democrat Darwin Gale Schisler to win election to the U.S. House.

Mr. Railsback lost his seat in the 1982 Republican primary, a defeat he attributed to his vote in the impeachment inquiry.

He was one of four Republicans and three conservative Democrats who drafted two of the three impeachment articles against Nixon, who resigned before the House voted on them.

In a 2012 New York Times commentary, Mr. Railsback noted that Democrats won a landside in the 1974 congressional elections, bringing in “a group of brash” legislators he said helped create an atmosphere of “division and unease.” He said that by the time of the Clinton impeachment inquiry, the Judiciary Committee was much more partisan — and that the climate in Congress by 2012 appeared “even more fractured.”

Mr. Railsback moved to Mesa from Idaho and retired after holding several jobs, including as an executive with the Motion Picture Association of America. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.

— Associated Press