Tags: Supreme Court | Trump Impeachment | chief justice | john roberts | scotus | preside | constitution

Chief Justice's Refusal to Preside Sparks Constitutional Concern

john roberts speaks during a ceremony
Chief Justice John Roberts (Andrew Harnik/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 27 January 2021 10:09 PM

The chief justice of the United States refusing to preside over the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump raises a significant question: Does John Roberts view the proceedings as being unconstitutional?

Neither Roberts nor the Supreme Court have commented to media outlets, including the New York Post, on why the chief justice will not preside over the second Trump impeachment trial.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking Monday night on MSNBC, said Roberts "doesn't want" to take part in the trial.

"The Constitution says the chief justice presides for a sitting president," Schumer said. "So it was up to John Roberts whether he wanted to preside with a president who is no longer sitting, Trump, and he doesn't want to do it."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who opposes the second impeachment of Trump, said Roberts' absence means the trial should not happen.

"The Constitution says two things about impeachment – it is a tool to remove the officeholder, and it must be presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court," Paul wrote in an op-ed Sunday for The Hill.

"Neither one of those things will happen. President Trump is gone, and Justice John Roberts, properly noticing the absence of an officeholder being impeached, is declining to preside. That settles it for me."

Paul's resolution Tuesday, questioning the constitutionality of trying a former president, was blocked 55-45 – meaning only five Republicans supported going forward with the trial.

Based on that outcome, it appeared the chamber will fall far short of the two-thirds majority necessary for conviction.

Roberts presided over Trump's first impeachment trial early last year.

Senate president pro tempore Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who voted to convict Trump during his first impeachment trial, will preside over the proceedings that are scheduled to begin the week of Feb. 8.

The House voted Jan. 13 to impeach Trump for inciting the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

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The chief justice of the United States refusing to preside over the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump raises a significant question: Does John Roberts view the proceedings as being unconstitutional?
chief justice, john roberts, scotus, preside, constitution, senate, patrick leahy
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2021-09-27
Wednesday, 27 January 2021 10:09 PM
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