The Left Is Claiming That Chief Justice John Roberts Can Order the Senate to Call Witnesses but They Are Just Peddling Resistance Porn

Chief Justice John Roberts

Rush Limbaugh has said for years that there is nothing funnier than watching the antics of the left when they are out of power. The impeachment of President Trump is turning out to be a master class in how this aphorism works.

For instance, after a hurried, spasmodic and thoroughly unprofessional impeachment inquiry into an allegation that seems to have been hand-massaged by Schiff and his staff…with the assistance of the Intelligence Community IG…in order to turn a policy disagreement into a “whistleblower” complaint, Nancy Pelosi balked at sending the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate. The sticking point was Mitch McConnell’s insistence that the Senate alone would decide whether to call witnesses. Because the House did such a craptacular job in the impeachment hearings, unless the Senate allows the House ‘impeachment managers’ free rein to call whomsoever they wish, there are really no witnesses who don’t merely deal in idle conjecture, total bullsh**, or some combination thereof.

Somehow, Pelosi became convinced by the on-air and social media commentary of convicted felon and perjurer, John Dean, and a superannuated Democrat law professor who hasn’t had a coherent thought in a decade that if she followed their magical plan that she held the upper hand despite having no power whatever. She thought that Mitch McConnell would allow her to dictate to the Senate how to hold the impeachment trial. That’s right. She believed that if she did not send the Articles of Impeachment to a Senate who did not want to deal with impeachment that they would immediately cave and do as she demanded so they could then get onto doing what they’d like to avoid.

Last week, McConnell disabused her of that notion. So now the Democrats are on to Plan B. This plan says that Chief Justice John Roberts has the power to force the Senate to hear witnesses.

This, naturally, from CNN:

This is nonsense on every level. It is simply #Resistance porn targeted at the lowest possible IQs.

First off, with all the unemployed and underemployed real lawyers out there, why this guy is a contributor is anyone’s guess. His answer is total nonsense.

The Chief Justice’s role in the impeachment trial is as the ‘presiding officer’. (See Article I, Section 3: “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.”) This is not a random choice of words. The reason that this is necessary is that ordinarily, the Vice President would preside (Article I, Section 3: “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate”) but because it would be unseemly for either the Vice President or the Senate President Pro-Tempore to preside as they would have overt conflicts, the Chief Justice takes over the task. This is basic Roberts Rules of Order stuff.

If you want to descend into the semantics of it, I suppose Roberts could, of course, order that witnesses be called. His order, though, would be met by an objection from the floor, a ruling by the parliamentarian that the Chief Justice had experienced a psychotic break, or a vote to overrule the order, and the trial would resume.

What this guy is claiming is that Roberts is not merely the ‘presiding officer,’ as the Constitution clearly states but that he’s in charge of the conduct of the trial. This is in direct contradiction to the US Constitution (See Article 1, Section 5: “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings”) which says that the Senate determines its own rules for an impeachment trial.

By the way, this is not the first time that the Democrats have insisted that Chief Justice John Roberts would intervene, deus ex machina, to give them a victory over #OrangeManBad,

Again, laughable analysis by someone who once had more dignity and integrity than to write pseudo-legal porn for Trump haters. This is how a Congressional reform group sees that:

Professor Tribe contends that Chief Justice Roberts must decide if he has jurisdiction to rule on a motion to forcibly recuse (or disqualify) a senator form participating in an impeachment trial because he or she cannot be impartial. But, ultimately, the Chief Justice does not make that decision. The Senate’s precedents from the 1804 Pickering trial and the 1868 Johnson trial affirm instead that it is up to senators to decide whether they should bar one of their colleagues from participating in an impeachment trial. The precedents also demonstrate that senators have been unwilling to recuse one of their colleagues forcibly.

Politico, chimes in with a story with the thoroughly woke headline John Roberts may be leading the Senate impeachment trial, but this woman is shaping it. In it the Senate Parliamentarian discusses Roberts’s actual role:

Her team will be tasked with delivering to Roberts the daily program that he’ll use to guide the proceedings. She will also be the one helping Roberts keep track of the clock as he calls on the people with assigned speaking roles — Trump’s White House and personal attorneys, Senate leaders and the House impeachment managers who will present the case for the Democrats. It’s a critical task for a chamber that operates on a series of careful agreements dictating time management.

Perhaps most importantly, though, MacDonough will be the one who must give the chief justice instant advice should he need to make any snap rulings or decisions that could influence the trajectory of the trial.

The key point is this:

Of course, senators don’t have to listen to her either. Reid and the Democrats, for example, overruled MacDonough in 2013 when they invoked the “nuclear option” to end the requirement that 60 votes were needed to confirm executive branch nominations and non-Supreme Court federal judicial appointments. She faced the same predicament in 2017 when McConnell changed the Senate rules so future Justice Neil Gorsuch could get confirmed to the Supreme Court without having to find the votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

“It was a stinging defeat that I tried not to take personally,” MacDonough recalled in her speech to the graduating students. “The one thing I can tell you about situations like this. It will never feel good, or rewarding enough, to say, ‘I told you so,’ when people finally understand the point of which you are trying to convince them.”

This is the bottom line. The impeachment trial is Mitch McConnell’s show and it will be conducted by Senate rules. So long as McConnell can hold his caucus together, those rules are exactly what he says they are. If you are saying that the Chief Justice, particularly this Chief Justice who is very deferential to the prerogatives of the other branches, can order the Senate to call witnesses if Mitch McConnell is not in the mood to do so, you are either an idiot or a liar. If you are saying the Chief Justice can order a particular witness to testify without Mitch McConnell going along, ditto. If you are saying that the Chief Justice, as presiding officer, has any power not directly granted to him by the Senate majority you know so little about the subject that you really should just shut up or you are deliberately deceiving your audience.

Managing Editor at RedState
Former infantry officer, CGSC grad and Army Operations Center alumnus.
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