Skip to comments.Chief Justice Roberts Is Right: An Unelected Official Should Not Cast Tie-Breaking Votes
Posted on 02/01/2020 4:59:19 PM PST by Kaslin
Roberts unwillingness to interfere in the proceedings of the trial will undoubtedly infuriate the left, but despite the hysteria, he's absolutely correct.
On Friday evening, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that should a tie arise during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, he would not step in to break it.
Given the near-even split of the Senate along party lines, Roberts comments put an end to the extensive speculation that had been bubbling around Washington.
Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer prompted Chief Justice Roberts by asking the Justice if he was aware of two instances in which Chief Justice Salmon Chase made tie-breaking votes in the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. Johnsons impeachment was the first in our nations history, resulting from frequent clashes between the Republican-controlled Congress and then-President Johnson, who repeatedly vetoed legislation designed to protect newly freed slaves.
Roberts informed Schumer that he was aware of Chief Justice Chases voting history, but that he would not be conducting himself in the same manner, should a tie arise.
Chases two tie-breaking votes were with regards to a motion to adjourn and a motion to end deliberations. Roberts addressed the significance of these two scenarios by stating, 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, 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, he explained.
It is true that even if a certain act amounts to precedent, as in the case of Johnsons impeachment, it doesnt necessarily mean its correct. There are plenty of precedents that are fundamentally wrong and probably should be abandoned, but for a host of reasons, have not been.
At the time Roberts made his above statement, it was unclear as to how Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski would vote on the motion to allow more witnesses. Had she voted in favor of the motion (she ultimately did not), the resulting breakdown of votes would have been 50-50, leaving the possibility open for Chief Justice Roberts to step in and save the motion by casting a vote in its favor.
The motion to allow more witnesses ultimately failed early Friday evening by a 49-51 vote, but Roberts comments provide a window into what to possibly expect, should another motion garner such a close result. Given the Republican majority in the Senate, Roberts unwillingness to interfere in the proceedings of the trial will undoubtedly infuriate the left, but despite the hysteria to which we will all inevitably be subjected, the Chief Justice is absolutely correct.
To the credit of those initially skeptical of Roberts comments, the Constitution itself is somewhat vague on the parameters of an impeachment trial. Article I, Section III provides the blueprint, albeit a slim one, of the Chief Justices role during an impeachment trial. It reads:
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and 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.
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
The complication arises from the verb preside. In the context of an impeachment trial, what does that precisely entail? Traditionally, when there is a tied vote in the Senate, the vice president would be responsible for breaking that tie as the President of the Senate. Clearly, when impeaching the president, it would be uncouth to have the vice president casting such votes, given the warped incentive structure impeachment might present for the vice president.
There has been considerable debate over whether the vice presidents role as President of the Senate amounts to a violation of the separation of powers doctrine upon which our Constitution is structured. Thus, Roberts is correct in his unwillingness to invite the same confusion into this impeachment trial, especially given the sole power accorded to the Senate with regards to trying all impeachments.
Given the highly contentious nature of this impeachment and the political polarization it has come to represent, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which Roberts casting a vote to rescue a motion on behalf of the Democrats would not be seen as partisan or in the very least, judicial activism. With a trial of this nature, urging the Supreme Court to put its thumb on the scale should strike all reasonable viewers as yet another attempt by the Democrats to usurp our political processes in order to get the outcome they favor.
When they lost the presidential election in 2016, we heard endless cries from Democrats calling for the destruction of the electoral college. When President Trump began discussing his nominees to the Supreme Court, Democrats started proposing various court-packing scenarios, should a Democrat win in 2020. When Democrats learned that the Supreme Court was considering hearing a case on the Second Amendment, five Democratic Senators sent a shameful legal brief to the Supreme Court, accusing the five Republican appointees of being beholden to big money and GOP overlords.
The Democrats, akin to modern-day Alinskyites, are unconcerned with the process, caring only for what they perceive to be the correct outcome. If the parties were reversed in this impeachment trial, I would pen the exact same piece, as the sanctity of our separation of powers doctrine cannot be overstated. For people who have bemoaned this trial as being unfair, its deeply ironic Democrats are asking for Chief Justice Roberts to perform something that many would regard as a fundamental usurpation of our republics values. I commend him wholeheartedly for not doing so.
Senators who are running to replace Trump should automatically be disqualified.
And yet an unelected official prevented Rand Paul from getting his question answered.
Democrats complained that this is a trial needing witnesses.
Jurors, which 4 Senators running against the President are in this trial, should be excused due to biad against the defendant just like in any other trial.
Too late. Justice Roberts gave himself the badge of Supreme Authority when he declined to read Sen Paul’s question.
This is true.
Yes! Why shouldn’t the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court break the law to pwn the libs!
And the Dems sure the hell aren';t gonna play that card. Not with the girls on the court.
“It is true that even if a certain act amounts to ‘precedent’, as in the case of Johnsons impeachment, it doesnt necessarily mean it’s correct”
This quote will be remembered, if Roe v Wade ever gets readdressed in court.
I would think that Roberts was looking forward to possibility of the whistle blower being involved in one or more court cases. They would, undoubtedly, go all the way to the Supreme Court of the US. If Roberts had allowed the man’s name to be known, when the case(s) reached the Supreme Court he would have to recuse himself.
“”should another motion garner such a close result.””
I would think that Schumer would be all finished with his motions. He wasted the time he wanted to waste on Friday and shouldn’t be given any more time.
“”And yet an unelected official prevented Rand Paul from getting his question answered.””
From even being ASKED!!
Senators who are running to replace Trump should automatically be disqualified.
They should have been banned from any entrance into the Capitol building during their Faux Impeachment bs.
Rams Paul should have screamed out his name and ask Roberts as head of the FISA courts what is he hiding? He would have gotten so much media.
Nor should he EVER has self-decided to adjudicate the Senator’s questions-— as he did with Rand Paul and the Eric Ciaramella question.
Which was brilliant, btw— and exposed Robert’s Deep State connex, either due to agreement with this ruling class of Stasi spy state, or due to the blackmail the Deep State has continued on him, from the time of a Chief Justice writing LAW from the bench and declaring the Healthcare Mandate— a TAX... when it never was. That sort of thing.
He exhibits any more behaviour of the like and it IS time to Impeach the Chief Justice.
Indeed they should be “RECUSED” from voting, because of Conflict of Interest.
That would remove Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren-— just like that. They really should not be voting on conviction of a known Presidential candidate that would face them. In fact, their voting of the conviction... would set in motion legal challenges.
Because voting for conviction on clearly NON-impeachable acts— is Against the Constituion. Period.
And even SCOTUS would recognize that, not being asleep except for Baeder Meinhof Ginsburg.
I dont know who is in the middle of this media scrum but It is hilarious. The short dude on the outside doesnt stand a chance
An unelected chief justice who is blackmailed should not make any decisions affecting the rest of our lives. In that category certainly resides Healthcare.
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