Hail to the Chief

Chief Justice Roberts deserves praise for his composure and poise during the impeachment trial

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Throughout most of the impeachment trial, Chief Justice Roberts said little, and he did it very well. But at several junctures, when tested, Roberts handled himself with composure and poise. Consider a few examples.

First, Senator Elizabeth Warren posed a written question that was a not-too-thinly veiled criticism of the Chief. Roberts, without flinching, read the question aloud:

"At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution?"

Roberts showed no visible reaction after reading the question. Ultimately, Warren's question may have backfired. Senator Murkowski may have voted against subpoenas in light of Warren's attack on the Chief. She explained, "It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the chief justice."

Had Murkowski voted to subpoena witnesses, the Senate would have split 50-50. Would Roberts have broken the tie? Senator Schumer posed this question in the form of a parliamentary inquiry. He asked if Roberts was aware that Chief Justice Chase cast two tie-breaking votes during the Johnson Impeachment trial

Roberts read from a prepared statement(my rough transcript):

I am Mr. Leader. The one concerned a motion to adjourn, the other concerned a motion to close deliberations. I do not regard those isolated episodes 150 years ago as sufficient to support a general authority to break ties. If the members of this body elected by the people and accountable to them divide equally on a motion, the normal rule is that the motion fails. I think it would be inappropriate for me, an unelected official from a different branch of government to assert the power to change that result so that the motion would succeed.

By the time Schumer had asked this question, the critical votes had already been cast. It is not clear why Schumer failed to pose this question earlier.

I hope, in due time, to address some of the responses that followed my New York Times op-ed. For now, I will flag an addendum co-blogger Keith Whittington graciously added to his post. I briefly explained how Alan Dershowitz went far, far beyond my position on mixed motives.

There is a simple, but important distinction between me and Dershowitz. In my view, an action taken with mixed motives–both personal political advantage and for promoting the general welfare–should not be considered an abuse of power. For Dershowitz, an action taken solely based on advancing personal political advantage cannot be an abuse of power, precisely because promoting personal politics is in the national interest.

Given the current schedule, the trial will likely draw to a close on Wednesday.

Advertisement

NEXT: Fifth Circuit Declines to Rehear Obamacare Severability Case en banc

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Derpawitz’ fingers crossed behind his back defense has increased the stature of the already legendary legal titan. Walk tall!

  2. This is just the latest, desperate attempt by Warren to try to save her sinking campaign and reinforces the point that the president’s violation of norms has resulted in comparable violations of norms in reaction.

    1. Yeah she managed to piss off much of the appellate lawyering community with that question. Even Schiff didn’t like it and slapped it down.

      Pretty clear she was trying to score political points in the primary campaign.

  3. I cannot imagine what Warren was thinking with that absurd “question”. Chief Justice Roberts isn’t exactly popular in MAGA land. My immediate reaction was, “If you want to alienate the Chief, that’s a great way to do it.” And I’m not so certain there was no visible reaction from Roberts. I think I saw a bit of the death stare from him.

    1. That was his “I sold out principles and logic to keep Obamacare to get treated like this?” look.

  4. Whoa whoa whoa, hold on a second. You wrote an op-ed in the New York Times? Why is this the first I’m hearing about it?

    You’ve got to stop hiding your light under a bushel like that.

  5. “Senator Murkowski may have voted against subpoenas in light of Warren’s attack on the Chief. She explained, “It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the chief justice.”

    I can’t believe this. Sen. Murkowski may be a gutless hack for the president. But (he said; while trying to defend this gutless hack) it is insulting to suggest that she would be moronic enough to vote against witnesses due to an improper question directed at Roberts. I could see a senator changing her vote on one of the issues regarding Roberts’ powers during the trial. That would make total sense (regardless of whether or not I’d do the same in her position). But to deliberately give the finger to the vast majority of the country, to deliberately participate in the Republican cover-up? . . . no, she may be a whore and a hack. But not a vindictive one.

    1. “Whore” in the metaphorical sense, not in the sell-your-body-for-sex sense. (I think it’s obvious, from context. But better safe than sorry . . .)

    2. I doubt Prof. Blackman was trying to ascribe any such thing to Sen.. Murkowski. He was just sucking up to someone near the top of the clinger pole to which he devotes his entire life trying to climb.

      1. It hurts, doesn’t it? The clingers are just not cooperating with your sick and demented worldview; they keep winning. It will be a long five years for you.

        1. Please continue about how conservatives are winning the culture war in America.

          I missed the reports concerning reintroduction of school prayer; criminalization of contraception and abortion; new laws supporting gay-bashing; requirement that creationism be taught in science classes; the demise of Social Security and Medicare; reduction of the number of women in graduate schools; government funding of a program to place Confederate monuments in every city that votes for Democrats; and restore the good old days when black men were compelled to lower their gaze in the company of a decent white woman.

          Open wider, clinger. Your betters aren’t through with you. Not nearly. More progress is coming, and you will comply.

          1. Keep it together Rev. You’ll need all the mental reserve you can muster to make it past President Trump’s reelection. In your present state, I’m afraid you just won’t be able to cope with it.

            1. Not enough knuckle-dragging bigots and superstitious rubes left in America to arrange your aspiration, clinger.

            2. I’m Ok with the Reverend having a total mental and emotional breakdown, making the choice to institutionalize himself, and just rock back and forth in the rocking chair, muttering incoherent ‘clinger’ phrases.

              1. Open wider, clinger. Your betters have more progress to shove down your whimpering, bigoted throat.

                As always, your lifelong obsequious compliance with the preferences of better people is appreciated.

    3. Sigh,

      This may surprise you Santa, but there are people who have different opinions from your own. There are people who firmly believe that Trump committed an impeachable crime, and no witness testimony will really change their mind. There are people who firmly believe that what Trump did wasn’t impeachable, and really wasn’t any different from the actions of dozens of past presidents, and witness testimony won’t really change their mind. And then there are the people in the middle who think what Trump did may be impeachable, it might not be impeachable, or it might be blown out of proportion by the Democrats, and it all depends on the circumstances.

      And it is those people in the middle (like Murkowski) you needed to convince. And this may surprise you, but if you need to convince people, insulting them, insulting the institutions and values they hold, and insinuating that they’re all traitors if they don’t do what you want is NOT the way to get them to support you.

      1. Why do you (ostensibly) disregard the ‘lather up the base” approach when offering advice to those with whom you disagree?

        1. Because, the “lather up the base” approach is designed to get out the vote. IE get more people who currently agree with your positions to vote.

          The issue is, the Senate is not a general popular election. It has 100 members. Everyone in it is already going to vote. You can’t “get out more vote” from the Senate by lathering up the base. You really do need the Senators who are swing voters and can be convinced if you want to get over the 50+1 thresh hold.

          1. This Senate wouldn’t have convicted Pres. Trump for murdering someone on Fifth Avenue — well, OK, maybe if the person he shot was trying to help a black guy or something similar — so perhaps Sen. Warren’s target audience was not Sen. Murkowski.

            The information concerning Pres. Trump’s conduct was and is destined to be revealed regardless of whether the Senate added a witness or two to the Senate trial. Getting a couple of Republicans to cross Pres. Trump on that one was (1) a longshot and (2) not so important in the long run.

            Why miss a rare chance to express criticism of the Supreme Court and Senate Republicans in that manner?

            1. For Santa,

              If you’re looking for a reason why Murkowski said what she did, our good reverend explains it perfectly with these quotes.

              “so perhaps Sen. Warren’s target audience was not Sen. Murkowski”
              “Why miss a rare chance to express criticism of the Supreme Court and Senate Republicans in that manner?”

              In other words, if impeachment isn’t about impeachment, but just about giving the Democrats a bigger political soapbox to criticize things they don’t like….why bother extending the trial with “witnesses”, when it’s not about the trial, but about the political soapbox?

            2. Just curious Rev, do you think the abuses inherent in the origins and processing of the “whistleblower” complaint are destined to be revealed too? I suspect Mr. Schiff and the ICIG my have some ‘splaining to do in the future.

              1. It will all be revealed. Just as every bigoted clinger will be replaced by a better person. History is instructive.

      2. A.L.,

        The problem is that the GOP defense was not based at all on the argument that, “We know he did what was alleged, and shouldn’t have. We just don’t think it was serious enough to merit removal from office.”

        Yeah, that’s what Alexander said, but for most it was a hodge-podge of wild conspiracy theories, denial of facts, and just general ranting.

        For those, there is no convincing, because they don’t believe the evidence of their senses if it goes against Trump.

        1. Trump’s defense was multi-layered. It basically went like this.

          1. It didn’t happen like they say it happened. They haven’t proven it happened like they say it happened. It happened like I said it happened. And no, I’m not going to let you publically interrogate all my closest advisers about it, at least not without a final court order.

          2. Even if it happened like they said it happened, it was an entirely appropriate action.

          3. Even if it is considered an inappropriate action, it doesn’t rise to an impeachable offense.

          1. The trouble is,

            1. It did happen like they said, and everyone knows it.

            2. If it happened that way, then it was inappropriate. There’s no way it’s appropriate to withhold critical aid to get a government to gin up an investigation of your opponents – per Bolton it wasn’t just Biden – based on a fantasy dreamed up on Moscow and sold to you by Putin.

            3. This is the only argument that merits attention.

            1. 1. Prove it. That’s a major issue. Everyone “knew” Trump colluded with Russia too. Remember?

              2. Depends. Some people might think it’s entirely appropriate to investigate corruption by a major US politician/candidate and their associates, even if you need to ask a foreign country’s help to do so. Obama’s administration certainly thought it was reasonable to ask for Ukraine’s help investigating Manafort. And Obama’s administration clearly thought investigating corruption was a good enough reason to withhold vital aid.

              3. Which was Lamar’s final argument, and he thought it wasn’t. So witnesses weren’t needed.

      3. There are people who firmly believe that Trump committed an impeachable crime, and no witness testimony will really change their mind.

        I don’t believe these people actually exist. No one honestly believes the President’s actions were impeachable.

        There are people who believe that this President’s actions were impeachable, but none that would honestly apply that standard to their own side. Those people also tend to believe that every one of this President’s actions are impeachable. Those people should not be taken seriously.

    4. I don’t often agree with santamonica but he is dead on here: “But to deliberately give the finger to the vast majority of the country”

      I think whenever US Senator disagrees with me they are deliberately giving the finger to the vast majority of the country, who obviously all agree with me.

      Thank you for expressing that fundemental principal that hopefully will build the foundation for national reconciliation and understanding.

      1. National reconciliation will occur when enough clingers are replaced to wring the intolerance, ignorance, and backwardness out of our national system.

        Until then, it’s a worthwhile contest to determine how much longer and to what degree conservatives can resist progress.

    5. she may be a whore

      Tolerant and inclusive progressive and champion of women alert!

  6. If the members of this body elected by the people and accountable to them divide equally on a motion, the normal rule is that the motion fails.

    Which motion? The motion to admit witnesses or the motion to proceed to a verdict?

    1. Any motion, in this context, I’d guess.

      1. This is not rocket science. The Rules of the Senate operating during the Trump impeachment, stated that motions would pass with 51 yea votes.

        That’s it. Confirming Schummer is an idiot, or, just playing to the cameras, because not a single democrat had any notion they could remove the President. They were just abusing their power attempting to gain political advantage

    2. Doesn’t matter. The question was asked in the abstract. And answered in the same context.

  7. Mixed motives quandary is settled. Putting a pause on aide is just fine for the President. He was confirming Ukraine had indeed satisfied their promise to work on corruption. Yes, yes, appropriate agencies had signed off, and The President has the power to ask those agencies to address his concerns. Not an impeachable offense. (in fact, not even a concern)

  8. Roberts beclowned himself yet again, showing that he is more concerned about appeasing the cocktail crowd in D.C. then anything else.

    Refusing to read Rand’s question (with no legal justification); asking for decorum from both sides while allowing the D’s to hurl invectives and insults with impunity; reading Warren’s question (which had no relevancy to the hearings; etc.

    I take solace, however, in knowing before Trump’s second term is over there is a high likelihood of at least one, and maybe two, replacements of Left-wing SCOTUS justices. At that point, Roberts will be Chief Justice in name only.

    1. Refusing to read Rand’s question (with no legal justification);

      The legal justification is that he was the presiding officer, and it was his job to make those decisions, and the question was improper.

      1. “The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted,”” is all he said. Would have been nice if he’d GIVEN a legal justification. Surely he could have invented one.

        I lost a fair amount of respect for him in that moment. He’s chosen his side, I guess.

        1. No Republican objected to Chief Justice Roberts’ conduct.

          #ClingerCowardice

        2. Brett, i hate to break it to you, but judges in trials often say “sustained” or “overruled” without explanation. That doesn’t make the ruling wrong or outrageous.

      2. Improper why? Please explain, in detail, how it could be improper since according to the lying sack of Schiff no one except the IG and apparently Justice Roberts knows who the whistleblower is?

        1. Because the whistleblower’s identity is protected under federal law?

          Let’s say a Senator asked a question that included classified information. Do you doubt that Roberts would do the same thing?

          1. No it’s not. Ciarmella is protected from retaliation, not to identification and certainly not when it is public knowledge he’s the whistleblower.

    2. What makes you so confident there are enough poorly educated, roundly bigoted, economically inadequate, backwaters-inhabiting yahoos remaining in America to give Pres. Trump another shot at an Electoral College trick shot?

      Do you live in a town in which racist yokels dominate? Have you never visited a modern, successful, accomplished, reasoning community? Did Jesus speak to you about this?

      1. “Have you never visited a modern, successful, accomplished, reasoning community?”

        I live in one. The lines to Vote in the Republican Primary for (Now) President Trump were epic! A truly glorious day to be alive! Keep on cluckin, Cuckland.

        1. Are you the kind of hayseed to whom Tempe seems a big-league city?

    3. Yes. Without explanation, Roberts’ refusal to ask Rand’s question is stupid and displays a contempt for rational discourse.

  9. Josh’s careerism is starting to get embarrassing.

    1. Not as embarrassing at his haters look.

      1. Sounds like a toss-up. Let’s let victory in the culture war — or, from Prof. Blackman’s perspective, deservedly being on the wrong side of history throughout his lifetime — decide this one.

      2. Nobody hates him.

        We, or at least I, just think he’s really badly overdoing the self-promotion, and has been for a long time.

        Just follow the links in his “Today in Supreme Court History” posts, for example. They go to blatant ads for his book. (Is Reason getting paid for that?)

        We’ve heard about the damn NYT op-ed ad nauseam.

        I’m seriously curious when the guy finds time to teach classes.

  10. With all the gnashing of teeth going on about a potential tie vote and if the Chief Justice will break it, I have seen no commentary even speculating that in the event of a tie vote it would still be within the powers of the Vice President even though he is not presiding. Article 3 states:

    The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

    Of course, I am sure anyone can parse this fairly mundane phrase as much as they would like to find a conclusion that fits their own ends. But it merely says to operative things (1) VP is President of the Senate and (2) he has no vote unless there is a tie. It is clear that the VP is a member of the body (serving as its President) and can also cast a vote. These two are not mutually exclusive and it has been the practice of deliberative bodies for years to allow someone other then the Chair or President to preside but that officer still retains their voting rights.

    I think there is a good case that even though the Chief Justice is presiding the VP would get to break any tie. Curious why no one, left, right, or wherever isn’t discussing this.

    1. For the same reason that physicists don’t sit around discussing your great idea for a perpetual motion machine.

    2. That is precisely the level of legal insight we have come to expect from a right-wing blog presented by Republican law professors.

      These are your peeps, Conspirators. Still figuring you’re going to turn the tide of the culture war with this bunch?

      1. David and the Rev(?)
        Jimmy asked a legitimate question. Why have you no reasoned response with appropriate citations that answer his question?

        The rank, partisan slur contained in Warren’s question was easily seen by Mr. Schiff, whose first sentence was to praise the chief.

        1. His question was, “I’ve spent five minutes thinking about a subject I know nothing about and came up with an idea. How come nobody at all is discussing it?”

          1. That seems a bit uncharitable. If the thought was expressed as, “IANAL so why…” would you have had the same reaction? The question was not ridiculous and I at least found nothing partisan in its nature…

            1. Which edge of the flag must be fringed to invoke legitimate jurisdiction in the United States of America against a sovereign citizen?

    3. Despite presiding over the Senate as its President during legislative proceedings. he is not a member of it. He gets no vote during a presidential impeachment.

      Nor should he. Too much conflict of interest to give him a vote in a proceeding that could give him the job of president.

      1. Thank you, Rossami.

      2. The VP is NOT a senator, but is the President of the Senate. He is an officer on the body. And he does have a vote, when the Senate is equally divided. The Constitution does not say “only in legislative session”. It says nothing about the role of the President of the Senate during impeach (other then the Chief Justice presides, which if the Senate assigns that role to the President of the Senate would override that rule of order). So why would the President of the Senate still not retain the Constitutionally prescribed power to break tie votes when the Senate is engaged in considering impeachment?

        1. Some possibilities:
          1. For Presidential impeachments, the Chief Justice takes over all powers that the Vice-President would have in any proceeding, including a vote if the Senate is tied.
          2. For Presidential impeachments, the Chief Justice presides, but without the right to vote in case of a tie, which is expressly limited to the Vice-President, rather than whoever presides; the Vice-President has no role.
          3. For Presidential impeachments, the Chief Justice presides, but without the right to vote in case of a tie; the Vice-President may still participate and vote to break a tie.

          Interpretation 3 has been suggested in a few places over the last few days. In a sort of hyper-literalist way it might make a certain sort of sense, but in context it seems implausible. Taking it even further, why would the Senate have to permit the VP to be present? If the Senate barred the VP from the chamber, would he still be able to cast a tie-breaking vote? That would be bizarre, so it seems that the VP’s ability to cast any tie-breaking vote is limited by implication to those cases where he presides.

          As between interpretations 1 and 2, the text is unclear. If the VP had a tie-breaking vote only in cases of impeachment, there might be a strong implication that the CJ inherited the power. But as the VP’s tie-breaking vote applies more broadly, it’s much less clear.

          Since the Senate has the power to create its own rules for any trial, presumably it would adopt either interpretation 1 or 2. Precedent from 1868 is not too relevant, since the Senate is not bound by precedent or the actions of long-ago Senates.

          1. The President of the Senate can be excluded from the Senate?

            We’ve gone through the looking glass.

            1. The VPOTUS is President of the Senate, and (equivalently?) he presides over the Senate.

              In the case of an impeachment trial of a President, the Chief Justice presides instead. The VPOTUS may still be “President of the Senate”, but for purposes of the trial he does not preside, and yes, in this case the Senate may (IMHO) exclude him. Why would they have to admit him?

              1. You have left off a simple possibility:
                in the case of a tie among voting Senators, the motion fails.
                No one gets to break the tie.

                1. Roberts went a half-step further, saying under normal rules, a tie is a failed vote, and it would be wrong for him to overturn it.

                  Close votes are often theater anyway, with congressmen in purple districts jockying to vote against their parties. Foreknowledge Roberts would vote would just reduce the number of cross-party votes to be reduced by one.

      3. Does the VP as president of the Senate get a vote in the case of a tie? It is a legitimate question. Under section 3 Clause 4 The VP definitely gets a vote in the case of a tie. Under Section 3, clause 6, to be convicted, it must be 2/3 of the members which does not include the President of the senate since he is not a member. However, nothing in clause 6 overrides clause 4. So it remains an open question.

        That being said, because of the 2/3 requirement, whether the VP gets a vote to break a tie or doesnt get a vote is basically moot.

        1. I would just say in case of final vote that the VP’s role is simply not applicable as the Constitution says “equally divided” and the threshold is 2/3 of members present.

          As for breaking any other tie, I think there could be a serious argument made either which way. Here though, functionally, I doubt the GOP or Dems had any appetite for creating that side show. (Imagine a scenario where Pence shows up breaks a 50-50 vote then on appeal it is 50-50 with Pence being able to cast the tie breaking vote on the decision of the chair…talk about a Constitutional nightmare).

          Chuckie Cheese was livid for Pelosi kicking this political football his way and expecting him to salvage the hatchet job the House did in the impeachment investigation. I think the only reason Chuckie even wanted to get the Chief Justice on a record was to take some of the media attention away from the witness vote. (Because really witnesses were never about finding any type of truth but keeping this in the news cycle for another 1-2 weeks).

          Would be interested though in some more academic thought on the question. Just surprised there was almost no discussion of this possibility considering all the talk in the peanut gallery about the CJ role overall.

          1. Everybody is ignoring the rules passed by the Senate that controlled the Impeachment of President Trump.
            The simple rule stated that all votes must carry 50 yea votes to pass.
            Ties fail to advance the motion.

            All this ginned up debate is the product of the media generating clicks. Looks like lots of people here have bought into the phony kerfuffle.

              1. Thanks, yes 51 votes, (lazy proof reading)

      4. Definitely a conflict of interest, but it could go in either direction depending on the VP’s loyalty to the President vs. his own desire to take the job.

        Best not to give him a vote either way.

    4. Your question is fair, but I believe the answer is that “president” and “preside” have the the same etymology. A president is one who presides. The Vice President is the President of the Senate, EXCEPT in one case: the impeachment of the President. From this reading, the Chief Justice in essence assumes the powers of the President of the Senate, and it is not completely irrational to argue that the Chief Justice DOES have a tie-break vote.

      Chief Justice Chase certainly believed he did. He somewhat snookered the Senate into it. He had ruled some minor question admissible. Senators objected, not to the ruling, but to Chase’s right to even make a ruling. The point was debated for hours, with no resolution. Finally, a motion to retire and go into conference was made. The vote was tied. Chase announced the vote, stated his vote was “aye”, and marched confidently into the conference room. A motion to take away his vote was made, but the motion was defeated.

      1. This is correct in all respects, and so was Roberts

      2. Mr. Drysdale: Granny, you can be vice president of the bank!

        Granny: I looked up “vice”, and I don’t wanna be president of no such goings on!

      3. The Vice President is the President of the Senate, EXCEPT in one case: the impeachment of the President. From this reading, the Chief Justice in essence assumes the powers of the President of the Senate, and it is not completely irrational to argue that the Chief Justice DOES have a tie-break vote.

        Not completely irrational, but getting there. The Constitution provides not only that the Chief Justice is to “preside” over trials of impeachment, but also that the Senate shall choose “also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States.”

        And in fact the VP very rarely actually “presides” over the proceedings in the Senate. The President pro tempore never attempts to break a tie. Indeed even the President pro tempore rarely presides over Senate proceedings. That job is done, in turn, by other Senators. So “presiding” over the Senate is not the same as being temporarily “President of the Senate” and there is no reason to believe that a temporary presider inherits any of the powers of the Vice President.

        Nor is there any textual reason to assume that the Vice President loses his tie-breaking vote during an impeachment proceeding. From the text, it appears that the only time the VP loses his powers to preside and cast tie-breaking votes (if he so chooses) is when he is exercising the office of President of the United States.

        (Which, btw, is a good example of the folk who wrote the Constitution knowing exactly how to draft a provision saying Mr B may, in some circumstances, exercise the powers of Mr. A – which they conspicuously fail to attempt in re folk presiding over the Senate in the VP’s absence.)

        Consequently there is every reason to believe that the VP can break procedural ties during an impeachment hearing. Indeed if all but two Senators chose to abstain in an actual, deciding, impeachment trial vote and if they divided equally, there is no reason to believe that the VP couldn’t choose to cast the tie-breaking vote to award himself the top job.

        As for “conflict of interest” considerations, give us a break. This is politics.

        1. If only Chief Justice Chase and the Senate had had the benefit of your keen analysis to guide them.

          True, the Vice President rarely presides over the Senate. But he could preside over every session if he chose. And of course the president pro tem doesn’t cast tie-break votes. HE’S A SENATOR, who already has the right to cast a vote on every question before the Senate.

          And what you dismiss as “politics” is just common sense. No person on the planet has a greater conflict of interest than the person who would become President in the event the President were removed, all the more under the original Constitutional design, under which the Vice President was the runner-up in the election. It is absurd to believe the authors of the Constitution would give that person a role in the impeachment trial.

  11. Pro. Blackman, I am in complete disagreement with your assessment of the Chief’s conduct so far. Rather than re-hash it, I refer you to this article:

    https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2020/01/chief_justice_john_roberts_strikes_out.html

    Admonishing both sides was out of hand.

    Allowing the House Managers to continually perjure themselves without rebuke is intolerable.

    “Roberts showed no visible reaction after reading the question.” What??? Did you watch it? His glare could have burnt a hole through Warren.

    The conclusory paragraph of the cited article is:

    “If the past is prologue for this entire sham process, and a witness can lie with impunity, and the president’s accusers can use “disorderly language” to attack him with no consequences, and President Trump cannot face his accusers, then shame on everyone involved, and this has gone much too far. End it.”

    1. I’ll disagree here.

      What was absolutely critical for Roberts was maintaining the appearance of impartiality. Absolute, 100% critical. Half the Democratic caucus was just waiting on some excuse to attack the Chief Justice as a GOP puppet of some sort, and that his actions invalidated the impeachment trial. This would be used to further attack the Supreme Court, and a rationale for stacking the court or some other scheme to overturn SCOTUS decisions and judges.

      And Roberts gave them nothing. Absolutely nothing. And that was more important that anything else he could’ve done in this trial.

      1. Basically agreed, though it would have been different had their been witnesses. Then he probably would have had to make some evidentiary rulings.

      2. If anything, rejecting that question got him labeled a traitor in right wing radio, and a lot of good that did him when Warren opened her mouth.

        He’t a traitor to both sides apparently.

        Sounds like my kind of hero!

    2. Ridiculous fucking article.

      No surprise there.

    3. The House Managers did not “perjure themselves”.

    4. I always assume that the people who publish that blog are Swedish or something; they’re lying about the second half of their blog name so why not about the first?

      The House managers – even if they were lying, which they were not – were not committing perjury. They were serving as advocates, not witnesses.

      And the only accusers Trump couldn’t face were the ones that he and his senate cronies wouldn’t let testify.

  12. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: John Roberts is like Mitt Romney, they are trying so hard to be a nice guy they’ve forgotten how to be a man.

    1. Lindsey Graham is trying so hard to be nice to Trump that he is acting like a woman that is infatuated with Trump.

    2. Like your namesake, a study in insecure masculinity.

  13. They were serving as advocates, not witnesses.

    The House Managers are prosecutors. They are literally “prosecuting” the case against the President.

    When it serves your rhetorical purpose, its the law and has to adhere. When it does not serve that rhetorical purpose, it has nothing to do with anything pertaining to law

    1. They were serving as advocates, not witnesses.

      The House Managers are prosecutors. They are literally “prosecuting” the case against the President.

      Um, yeah. That’s what I said.

  14. Hail to the Chief?

    For refusing to read Sen. Paul’s appropriate and respectful question? I don’t think so. And Prof. Blackman didn’t even mention that singular and remarkable action against the president’s defense and what is left of due process in impeachment investigations and trials. That omission should make the Guinness Book of World records for the most rapid attempt to rewrite history.

    And the chief justice showed “no visible reaction” to Sen. Warren’s question? You mean besides the several seconds long, penetrating death-stare he gave her? Ah-Bleee!

    Is this article a spoof, and I didn’t get it, or is it simply not credible?

    1. I have a similarly respectful and appropriate question: Which is the more important element in making the Republican Party attractive to you — the superstitious backwardness, or the diffuse bigotry?

      Thank you.

  15. I think that it was a mistake to bring Chief Justice Roberts into it. But I think Senator Warren’s basic position that refusing to call witnesses reflects poorly on public institutions is a fairly standard and obvious one that proponents of impeachment have been making for some time. I don’t think including Chief Justice Roberts and the Supreme Court in the list is likely to have changed anyone’s mind.

  16. The notion that Senator Murkowski wasn’t in the bag for McConnell right from the beginning is pretty comical.

Please to post comments