Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-30-2019, 01:38 PM
Whack-a-Mole's Avatar
Whack-a-Mole is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Posts: 20,985

Impeachment in the senate: Would a bare minimum for a quorum suffice?


I know...the House impeaches and the Senate convicts.

My question comes from a suggestion I saw elsewhere that a way for the senate to convict Trump and have republicans save face is for only 51 senators to show for the vote (the bare minimum needed for a quorum). It would require four republicans to show but I think there are four republicans to be found in the senate openly hostile to Trump to do it. They can vote against conviction too and the democrats would easily make up the 2/3 vote needed.

My question is would this work or does the constitution require all 100 senators to vote?
__________________
"I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it." ~John Stuart Mill

Last edited by Whack-a-Mole; 11-30-2019 at 01:39 PM.
  #2  
Old 11-30-2019, 01:42 PM
HurricaneDitka is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 15,096
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole View Post
I know...the House impeaches and the Senate convicts.

My question comes from a suggestion I saw elsewhere that a way for the senate to convict Trump and have republicans save face is for only 51 senators to show for the vote (the bare minimum needed for a quorum). It would require four republicans to show but I think there are four republicans to be found in the senate openly hostile to Trump to do it. They can vote against conviction too and the democrats would easily make up the 2/3 vote needed.

My question is would this work or does the constitution require all 100 senators to vote?
I believe the answer to your question is 'yes'. The Constitution says:

Quote:
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.
On the practical side of things, I suspect a larger challenge than finding 4 anti-Trump Republican Senators to go along with the scheme would be to convince the other 49 Republican Senators that they should skip the vote. Most of them probably do not want to do this.

Last edited by HurricaneDitka; 11-30-2019 at 01:44 PM.
  #3  
Old 11-30-2019, 01:45 PM
friedo's Avatar
friedo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 24,478
The Constitution does say that "no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present." (Article I 3).

So I suppose it could work.
  #4  
Old 11-30-2019, 01:54 PM
Whack-a-Mole's Avatar
Whack-a-Mole is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Posts: 20,985
Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
On the practical side of things, I suspect a larger challenge than finding 4 anti-Trump Republican Senators to go along with the scheme would be to convince the other 49 Republican Senators that they should skip the vote. Most of them probably do not want to do this.
Republicans seem particularly good at taking marching orders and falling in line. If the leadership said this is how it is going down history suggests the rest would go along with it.

Also, while the math gets complex, you do not strictly need the 51 minimum for a quorum. If some diehard Trump supporters still wanted to show up they could without tipping the balance to acquit.

EDIT to add: Maybe not so complex. I think as long as there are 71 or fewer senators present and all dems vote to convict that would do it.
__________________
"I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it." ~John Stuart Mill

Last edited by Whack-a-Mole; 11-30-2019 at 01:58 PM.
  #5  
Old 11-30-2019, 02:07 PM
friedo's Avatar
friedo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 24,478
There are currently 45 Democratic senators plus two pretend independents. 47/71 = 0.66197... which is slightly less than two thirds, so that won't do it. If 70 show up and 47 vote to convict, that gets you 0.67142... which works.
  #6  
Old 11-30-2019, 02:14 PM
Whack-a-Mole's Avatar
Whack-a-Mole is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Posts: 20,985
Quote:
Originally Posted by friedo View Post
There are currently 45 Democratic senators plus two pretend independents. 47/71 = 0.66197... which is slightly less than two thirds, so that won't do it. If 70 show up and 47 vote to convict, that gets you 0.67142... which works.
That'll teach me to pay attention to more significant decimal places!
__________________
"I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it." ~John Stuart Mill
  #7  
Old 11-30-2019, 03:59 PM
HurricaneDitka is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 15,096
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole View Post
Republicans seem particularly good at taking marching orders and falling in line. If the leadership said this is how it is going down history suggests the rest would go along with it. ...
Sure. Have you seen any indications that the Republican leadership in the Senate is interested in telling Senators that they should not show up for the vote? I haven't.
  #8  
Old 11-30-2019, 04:32 PM
Whack-a-Mole's Avatar
Whack-a-Mole is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Posts: 20,985
Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
Sure. Have you seen any indications that the Republican leadership in the Senate is interested in telling Senators that they should not show up for the vote? I haven't.
Nope. Absolutely none. I would be very surprised if they did this. I would be truly shocked if they did.
__________________
"I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it." ~John Stuart Mill

Last edited by Whack-a-Mole; 11-30-2019 at 04:34 PM.
  #9  
Old 11-30-2019, 04:42 PM
simster is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 11,384
Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
Sure. Have you seen any indications that the Republican leadership in the Senate is interested in telling Senators that they should not show up for the vote? I haven't.
The president keeps thinking its best to ignore this 'sham' lest he give it any credibility - so he is not sending anyone to the Judiciary Committee hearings next week as a defense, etc -

The republicans can just follow suit with the (idiot) president and decide not to give this "sham" any credibility. Their silence can be the answer.
  #10  
Old 11-30-2019, 05:01 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 85,764
[Moderating]

A reminder: This thread is in GQ, and is about what can, legally, be done. It is not about what should be done, or what is likely to be done, or about the reasons why it might or might not be done. Those are all questions for GD or Elections. Keep your responses factual.
  #11  
Old 11-30-2019, 05:15 PM
RioRico is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: beyond cell service
Posts: 666
Pressure from their owners will determine if and how GOP senators appear and vote. I assume very few, if any, GOPs will vote GUILTY. So what are their options?

* GOP majority votes NOT GUILTY. It's over.
* GOP majority votes PRESENT. No removal.
* GOP majority stays away. Maybe removal.
* Moscow Mitch releases deadly fungus. Oy.
* GOPs run away; Senate explodes & burns.
* GOPS remain; Senate incinerates anyway.

Those last are Reichtag Fire type events that lead to state of emergency, martial law, rounding up dissidents, etc. Oh no, that can't happen here!

Last edited by RioRico; 11-30-2019 at 05:16 PM.
  #12  
Old 11-30-2019, 06:36 PM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 43,608
Quote:
Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
Pressure from their owners will determine if and how GOP senators appear and vote.

* Moscow Mitch releases deadly fungus. Oy.
Bolding mine.

Moderator Warning

Making political cracks immediately after a reminder not to do so will get you a warning.

ONCE AGAIN, KEEP RESPONSES FACTUAL.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator
  #13  
Old 12-01-2019, 03:22 AM
Senegoid is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Sunny California
Posts: 14,964
@Chronos and @Colibri -- Since HurricaneDitka and friedo were prompt to give probably the best, or maybe only knowable, factual answers, and all subsequent posts have just been kicking around ideas about it, perhaps this thread would best be moved to Elections now, instead of passing out mod notes and warnings?
__________________
=========================================

Last edited by Senegoid; 12-01-2019 at 03:22 AM.
  #14  
Old 12-02-2019, 02:17 PM
md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 15,229
The problem with a senator not showing up - or hiding in the washroom, or whatever - is that the result still reflects on them. If Senator A chose not to appear, and because he was not there the result is "impeached" due to a small quorum - then "I didn't vote to impeach(remove)" won't really be a defence in any primary or election, because their act of not attending permitted the result that happened. (I.e. in today's reality, a Republican not attending is ceding the vote to the Democrats). Not only would a Republican senator be accused of helping to impeach anyway from their own party, they would also be subject to charges of cowardice from both sides during their next election. it's lose-lose. It's a decision that cannot be dodged. Voting "present" is no different than voting "no" since impeachment requires 2/3 of those present to vote "yes" (concurrence) to impeach (remove).
  #15  
Old 12-03-2019, 08:22 PM
commasense's Avatar
commasense is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Atlanta area
Posts: 6,487
Over in this thread, I asked the same question, and Saint Cad said this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint Cad View Post
Those talking about absent members, it is illegal for a congress member to not attend a session without permission of the presiding officer and can compel absent members to attend. I doubt Roberts would excuse any Senator except under dire circumstances.
However, he gives no cite.
  #16  
Old 12-04-2019, 01:49 PM
Saint Cad is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: N of Denver & S of Sanity
Posts: 13,668
Quote:
Originally Posted by commasense View Post
Over in this thread, I asked the same question, and Saint Cad said this:

However, he gives no cite.
Rule VI
1. A quorum shall consist of a majority of the Senators duly chosen and sworn.

2. No Senator shall absent himself from the service of the Senate without leave.

3. If, at any time during the daily sessions of the Senate, a question shall be raised by any Senator as to the presence of a quorum, the Presiding Officer shall forthwith direct the Secretary to call the roll and shall announce the result, and these proceedings shall be without debate.

4. Whenever upon such roll call it shall be ascertained that a quorum is not present, a majority of the Senators present may direct the Sergeant at Arms to request, and, when necessary, to compel the attendance of the absent Senators, which order shall be determined without debate; and pending its execution, and until a quorum shall be present, no debate nor motion, except to adjourn, or to recess pursuant to a previous order entered by unanimous consent, shall be in order.

So the question is can the Senate compel the attendance of absent members if there is a quorum? Surprisingly there seems to be few if any citations of how a process would occur. Could the presiding officer simply have the sergeant-at-arms arrest the absent Senator? Would it need a majority vote? Clearly there cannot be a rule without some method of enforcement.

But assuming the lack of any enforcement mechanism (under Ballin, it seem clear that the majority of a quorate Senate could enforce the rule but ignoring that for the moment) can it theoretically be done even if a quorum exists? Yes. A member suggests the lack of a quorum and the Senate would have a Quorum Call. If less than 51 Senators answer the Quorum Call (even if they are there) then there is a lack of a quorum and the absent Senators are sent for.



As for the authority to compel absent members to attend it is in the Constitution Article I, Section 5
Quote:
Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties as each House may provide.

Last edited by Saint Cad; 12-04-2019 at 01:52 PM.
  #17  
Old 12-04-2019, 01:58 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 85,764
So it sounds like whoever is present can choose to compel the attendance of those who are not present, whether those present constitute a quorum or not. But in a situation where it was being done as a political ruse, presumably those present would not choose to compel the attendance of those not present. And it looks like they have the authority to choose not to compel attendance.
  #18  
Old 12-04-2019, 03:40 PM
Saint Cad is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: N of Denver & S of Sanity
Posts: 13,668
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
And it looks like they have the authority to choose not to compel attendance.
That is an open question. Since the Presiding Officer is empowered to enforce the rules, I would argue that they could simply send the sergeant-at-arms to arrest the absent Senator. However if this is the case why would it need a majority of those present to order the arrest of absent Senators if there is no quorum? Also, what if a solo Senator raises a Point of Order that Senators are absent without leave? The Senate would be forced to do something.

I can think of one case where this would be used. Remember when the Pubs had pro-forma Senate sessions to prevent Obama from making recess appointments? If more Dems than Pubs showed up, they could have instituted a Quorum Call and had all of the Senators dragged into the chambers. If you are going to claim to be in session then you need to be in session.

Last edited by Saint Cad; 12-04-2019 at 03:41 PM.
  #19  
Old 12-04-2019, 04:11 PM
dtilque is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: My own private Nogero
Posts: 7,297
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint Cad View Post
I can think of one case where this would be used. Remember when the Pubs had pro-forma Senate sessions to prevent Obama from making recess appointments? If more Dems than Pubs showed up, they could have instituted a Quorum Call and had all of the Senators dragged into the chambers. If you are going to claim to be in session then you need to be in session.
Those pro-forma sessions were during times when most Senators were out of town, such as during Christmas and Thanksgiving. What happens if the S-at-A can't find enough senators for a quorum within the DC area?
  #20  
Old 12-04-2019, 04:24 PM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,671
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
Those pro-forma sessions were during times when most Senators were out of town, such as during Christmas and Thanksgiving. What happens if the S-at-A can't find enough senators for a quorum within the DC area?
Presumably they send out the Sergeant at Arms to go round up the Senators and bring them back for the vote. In 1988 the Senate issued arrest warrants for 46 Republican senators who didn't show up, causing a lack of a quorum, and they sent the Sergeant at Arms to go round them up.

No idea what would happen if they packed up and went to say... Montreal though, as they would have no jurisdiction there.

Last edited by bump; 12-04-2019 at 04:28 PM.
  #21  
Old 12-04-2019, 04:30 PM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,671
Interesting article about Senators being compelled to show up for a quorum...

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics...o-work/438045/
  #22  
Old 12-04-2019, 04:41 PM
commasense's Avatar
commasense is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Atlanta area
Posts: 6,487
Quote:
Originally Posted by commasense View Post
Over in this thread, I asked the same question, and Saint Cad said this:

However, he gives no cite.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint Cad View Post
Rule VI
1. A quorum shall consist of a majority of the Senators duly chosen and sworn.

2. No Senator shall absent himself from the service of the Senate without leave.

3. If, at any time during the daily sessions of the Senate, a question shall be raised by any Senator as to the presence of a quorum, the Presiding Officer shall forthwith direct the Secretary to call the roll and shall announce the result, and these proceedings shall be without debate.

4. Whenever upon such roll call it shall be ascertained that a quorum is not present, a majority of the Senators present may direct the Sergeant at Arms to request, and, when necessary, to compel the attendance of the absent Senators, which order shall be determined without debate; and pending its execution, and until a quorum shall be present, no debate nor motion, except to adjourn, or to recess pursuant to a previous order entered by unanimous consent, shall be in order.

So the question is can the Senate compel the attendance of absent members if there is a quorum? Surprisingly there seems to be few if any citations of how a process would occur. Could the presiding officer simply have the sergeant-at-arms arrest the absent Senator? Would it need a majority vote? Clearly there cannot be a rule without some method of enforcement.

But assuming the lack of any enforcement mechanism (under Ballin, it seem clear that the majority of a quorate Senate could enforce the rule but ignoring that for the moment) can it theoretically be done even if a quorum exists? Yes. A member suggests the lack of a quorum and the Senate would have a Quorum Call. If less than 51 Senators answer the Quorum Call (even if they are there) then there is a lack of a quorum and the absent Senators are sent for.



As for the authority to compel absent members to attend it is in the Constitution Article I, Section 5
BTW, I hope Saint Cad and everyone else here understands that I didn't mean to imply that Saint Cad didn't have a source for the statement I quoted, only that I didn't know what it was. Thanks for providing it in your subsequent post, SC. (Although you didn't actually include a link to the rules.)
  #23  
Old 12-04-2019, 06:15 PM
dtilque is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: My own private Nogero
Posts: 7,297
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
Presumably they send out the Sergeant at Arms to go round up the Senators and bring them back for the vote. In 1988 the Senate issued arrest warrants for 46 Republican senators who didn't show up, causing a lack of a quorum, and they sent the Sergeant at Arms to go round them up.
You didn't quite answer what I asked. What happens if they need a quorum today and the bulk of the Senators are more than a day's travel away, scattered all over the country? They send the S@A out but he and his team can't corral enough of them until the third day. What do they do then?
  #24  
Old 12-04-2019, 06:29 PM
Saint Cad is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: N of Denver & S of Sanity
Posts: 13,668
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
You didn't quite answer what I asked. What happens if they need a quorum today and the bulk of the Senators are more than a day's travel away, scattered all over the country? They send the S@A out but he and his team can't corral enough of them until the third day. What do they do then?
They conduct no business until a quorum is reached. I would have been used to inconvenience the Pubs who were claiming the Senate was in session while not attending as they are legally required to do.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:13 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017