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Old 01-09-2020, 12:34 PM
Clu-Me-In is offline
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Why did the framers include the Chief Justice in Impeachment Trials?


Why did the framers include the Chief Justice in Impeachment Trials if it wasn't to decide fairness and rule on the law of the land?
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Old 01-09-2020, 01:09 PM
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The answer might be in the federalist papers which is where a lot of ideas came from for the constitution.
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Old 01-09-2020, 01:15 PM
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The CJ presides in Presidential impeachment trials, since the Vice President, the constitutionally mandated Senate Presiding Officer has a rather big conflict of interest in such a case.
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Old 01-09-2020, 01:37 PM
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I don't know of any references in any of the statements of the Founding Fathers, but ISTM
  • The Chief Justice presides over the highest court in the land, so he should preside over a trial of the highest elected official in the land, and
  • All three branches of the federal government are involved. The legislative branch is conducting the trial, the executive branch leader is the one on trial, so the legislative branch is there to act as a check on the other two branches.
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Old 01-09-2020, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
I don't know of any references in any of the statements of the Founding Fathers, but ISTM
  • The Chief Justice presides over the highest court in the land, so he should preside over a trial of the highest elected official in the land, and
  • All three branches of the federal government are involved. The legislative branch is conducting the trial, the executive branch leader is the one on trial, so the legislative branch is there to act as a check on the other two branches.
Those factors are there in all impeachment trials but most of them don't require the Chief Justice to preside.

I agree with AK84; it's because the Vice President can't be expected to always act in an unbiased manner if the President is being impeached so he's recused and the Chief Justice replaces him.
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:21 PM
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Most impeachment trials don't involve the chief executive officer of the United States.

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Old 01-09-2020, 03:20 PM
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Most impeachment trials don't involve the chief executive officer of the United States.
And for those, the Chief Justice does not preside.
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Old 01-09-2020, 03:30 PM
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Those factors are there in all impeachment trials but most of them don't require the Chief Justice to preside.

I agree with AK84; it's because the Vice President can't be expected to always act in an unbiased manner if the President is being impeached so he's recused and the Chief Justice replaces him.
This is especially true because in the original conception of the Constitution, the VP would be the person who ran against the current President, not with him.
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:27 PM
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it's because the Vice President can't be expected to always act in an unbiased manner if the President is being impeached so he's recused and the Chief Justice replaces him.
But the jurors (Senators) can be expected to act in an unbiased way?
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:40 PM
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But the jurors (Senators) can be expected to act in an unbiased way?
They take an oath to "do impartial justice". Which means McConnell and Graham can't take the oath without committing perjury. Maybe Roberts will just refuse to swear them in.
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Old 01-09-2020, 07:43 PM
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But the jurors (Senators) can be expected to act in an unbiased way?
They don't have the same inherent conflict of interest that the Vice-President has.
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Old 01-09-2020, 07:45 PM
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But the jurors (Senators) can be expected to act in an unbiased way?
Of course, the Constitution did not really contemplate the party system, especially the harsh partisan system that has evolved today, but I'm sure that the founders probably realized that many senators would have personal relationships with the president and perhaps could not believe that he might do anything improper.

I think that is the problem with equating senators in an impeachment trial with jurors in a criminal case. First, they are judges of both law and fact whereas regular jurors only judge fact. Further, as judges, they are expected to be able to judge according to the law despite their personal biases, whereas Joe Six Pack, chosen from the community at random, would likely not be able to do so. That's one of the reasons why jurors are forbidden from reading outside materials about the case and instructed not to start deliberating until all of the evidence comes in.

I don't believe that there is anything wrong with allowing the rest of the people in the world to have opinions on the case based upon what we have read, seen, and heard, but demand that these 100 people pretend to be blind. All that does is force them to lie about their prejudice.
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Clu-Me-In View Post
But the jurors (Senators) can be expected to act in an unbiased way?
Senators have no direct stake in the outcome of a presidential impeachment trial in the way a Vice President would. Regardless of the outcome, they're still going to be Senators afterwards.
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Old 01-10-2020, 12:09 AM
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Interestingly, when Andrew Johnson was impeached, there was no Vice President (as the 25th Amendment had not been passed and Johnson became President on Lincoln's death) and the next in line for the presidency at that time was the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Benjamin Wade.

There was some debate over whether Wade should cast a vote on the articles as he had a direct conflict of interest: He would be president if Johnson was convicted. In the end, he voted...to convict.
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Old 01-10-2020, 12:37 AM
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I think one of the issues is that the framers didn't know that the Senate would choose to have an extremely weak presiding officer. There was a possibility that the vice president would be extremely important in the Senate, but it quickly became the norm that the Senate wanted nothing to do with the VP and the VP just stopped showing up except when needed to break a tie.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 01-10-2020 at 12:40 AM.
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Old 01-10-2020, 08:32 AM
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Speaking of founding fathers: ""When a man unprincipled in private life[,] desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper . . . despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may 'ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.'" From Alexander Hamilton.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:14 AM
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I think the framers thought that the Senators would honor their oaths and administer judgment in an unbiased manner, and that the CJ would preside due to the obvious conflict of interest of the VP. They did not foresee a corrupt president and a hyper-partisan Senate led by such an immoral and unscrupulous man.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Feldon View Post
I think one of the issues is that the framers didn't know that the Senate would choose to have an extremely weak presiding officer. There was a possibility that the vice president would be extremely important in the Senate, but it quickly became the norm that the Senate wanted nothing to do with the VP and the VP just stopped showing up except when needed to break a tie.
Lyndon Johnson tried to reverse this. Johnson had been a powerful figure in the Senate and he wanted to maintain his power base there after being elected Vice President. But several Senators told Johnson that he was no longer part of the Senate and they would not let the Senate be led by an outsider. They also pointed out that Johnson himself would have done the same if some other VP had tried it when he was still a Senator.
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Old 01-10-2020, 12:16 PM
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I think the framers thought that the Senators would honor their oaths and administer judgment in an unbiased manner, and that the CJ would preside due to the obvious conflict of interest of the VP. They did not foresee a corrupt president and a hyper-partisan Senate led by such an immoral and unscrupulous man.
Why are you complaining? Clinton was acquitted.
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Old 01-11-2020, 02:32 AM
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The real puzzle is why they didn’t provide that the Chief Justice has to preside over an impeachment trial of the Veep.
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Old 01-11-2020, 05:05 PM
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The real puzzle is why they didn’t provide that the Chief Justice has to preside over an impeachment trial of the Veep.
Maybe the drafters were tired by then. Was any mention made in the Federalist Papers of impeaching VPs? IANAL but I'd guess the Senate is left to draft rules of VP trials. A kinky Senate might have the impeached (indicted) VP preside over their OWN trial. No satirical reporting would be possible; IRL absurdity would trump any parody. The accused = the judge = a jury member whose vote would break ties. Sacre bleu!

Last edited by RioRico; 01-11-2020 at 05:07 PM.
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