Tags: Supreme Court | Trump Impeachment | trump | impeachment | john roberts | patrick leahy

Will Chief Justice's Exit Throw Monkey Wrench in Trump Impeachment Trial?

john roberts sits for picture
Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, as he sits with fellow Supreme Court justices for a group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington on Nov. 30, 2018. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

By Tuesday, 26 January 2021 06:31 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The surprise decision Monday afternoon of Chief Justice John Roberts not to preside over the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump has raised serious question about the future of the trial itself.

At least one retired federal judge suggested that a legal challenge from Republicans could be in the pipeline over whether the official next-in-line to preside — the president pro tem of the Senate — can do those duties when he also has a vote on the fate of Trump.

Roberts’ decision came on the same day that articles of impeachment from the House were formally delivered to the Senate.

Without Roberts wielding the gavel over Trump’s second impeachment trial, Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt. — who, as senior Democrat in the Senate is president pro tem of the Senate — will preside over the coming event.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Leahy would only say “the first choice” for presiding was Roberts, but in the event the chief justice was unavailable, he “was up to the responsibility.”

In impeachment trials of office-holders other than the president, the president pro tem of the Senate has historically presided. 

“I would suspect there’s a waiting challenge over whether a sitting Senator who presides  over a proceeding may vote,” a retired federal judge who requested anonymity told Newsmax. “There is where the question may arise.”

But noting the precedent of courts deferring to Congress on the respective rules of the House and the Senate, the same judge conceded “Senate rules and procedures will more than likely prevail in a legal sense. What the result is in a public relations sense is a different matter. Whether the presiding officer has a vote seems to me to be critical from a public relations standpoint.” 

It remains to be seen whether Republicans are willing to make this challenge over who presides over the first impeachment trial of a former president.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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The surprise decision Monday afternoon of Chief Justice John Roberts not to preside over the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump has raised serious question about the future of the trial itself...
trump, impeachment, john roberts, patrick leahy
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2021-31-26
Tuesday, 26 January 2021 06:31 AM
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