As Glenn Reynolds Might Put It . . .

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on October 23, 2010


“They told me that if I vote Republican in the upcoming midterm elections, there will be impeachments afoot. And they were right!”

Note that this particular impeachment is being proposed because Vic DeFazio disagrees with one of the Chief Justice’s decisions. Art. III, Sec. 1 of the Constitution states that judges–and this includes Supreme Court Justices, of course–”shall hold their Offices during good Behavior,” which means that only lapses from good behavior justify an impeachment. DeFazio claims that the Chief lied during his confirmation hearings with a supposed claim that he would never overturn precedent, but that claim itself is a lie; the Chief never stated that he would not overturn precedent. Indeed, law professors like Geoffrey Stone–who is no one’s idea of a judicial conservative–throw cold water on any drive to impeachment:

“This is neither well-advised nor plausible,” said Geoffrey R. Stone, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. “Nominees may not perjure themselves, of course, but nothing in Roberts’ testimony along these lines can fairly be characterized as perjury.

“I think it’s probably an understatement to say it’s extremely unlikely the House of Representatives will do anything about this,” agreed University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law professor Michael J. Gerhardt. “Impeachment resolutions are introduced all the time, but very little comes of most of them, because most lack any merit and most just have no political support behind them.”

Gerhardt added that Roberts has generally respected precedent. “[I]n this case, it could just be called a question of judgment,” he said. “It appears to me that a judge, and in this case, the chief justice of the United States, has the independence to exercise his judgment.”

Vic DeFazio and the Democrats must really be desperate if they are trying to advance this particular line of argument.

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