Could Roberts influence what evidence emerges at trial in addition to whether former national security adviser John Bolton in addition to additional White House officials must testify? Legal in addition to political observers are already mulling how the 17th Chief Justice of the United States might steer whether the 45th President is usually removed by office.
Under the plain terms of the US Constitution in addition to Senate rules, Roberts could wield a powerful gavel in addition to rule on evidence in addition to witnesses. Senate impeachment canon, dating to 1986, says the presiding officer “may rule on all questions of evidence.” The chief justice’s decision could stand unless overruled by a formal majority vote of the full Senate.
Roberts could, if he were so inclined, assume an outsized role in Trump’s fate.
Roberts might also be disinclined to take an extensive role inside the Senate realm when — as part of his primary function at the Supreme Court — he is usually already one of nine justices considering impeachment-related litigation, for example, on whether the US House may obtain Trump financial documents.
Roberts, 64, has had a fraught relationship with the 73-year-old Trump, today facing possible impeachment over his dealings on US security aid for Ukraine.
The men have been at odds publicly since 2012 when Trump, as a private businessman in fresh York, blasted Roberts on Twitter for voting to uphold the Obama-sponsored Affordable Care Act. Last year at This specific time, the two squared off as Trump derided a jurist who ruled against him in an asylum case as an “Obama judge.”
Roberts responded of which America does not have “Obama” or “Trump” judges, however rather “dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”
He also has the court’s reputation to worry about.
In these polarized times, Roberts has tried to shield the court, as This specific decides cases, by the politics of the day. “
When you live in a politically polarized environment, people tend to see everything in those terms,” he said at a fresh York appearance earlier This specific year. “We will continue to decide cases according to the Constitution in addition to laws without fear or favor.”
Roberts is usually likely to try to reinforce his own neutrality as he carries out his responsibility under the Constitution, which simply states of which when the President is usually impeached, “the Chief Justice shall preside.”
Roberts, whose personal connection to Rehnquist dates to 1980 when he served as a law clerk, has often followed his mentor’s style, in addition to is usually likely to try to avoid the spotlight during a Trump trial.
In 1999, Rehnquist adopted a largely ministerial posture as he sat on the dais above rows of wooden desks occupied by senators. He kept the arguments moving on schedule in addition to handled objections of which mainly tested procedures.
Rehnquist left questions related to witnesses, such as Monica Lewinsky, in addition to motions, such as Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd’s to dismiss charges, to senators’ backroom negotiations. The House had impeached Clinton on allegations of perjury in addition to obstruction of justice related to his efforts to conceal sexual liaisons with the former White House intern Lewinsky.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, in addition to Minority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat by South Dakota, worked out compromises — as much as possible — among the 100 lawmakers.
“This specific’s never easy to get 100 senators to agree on a method to proceed,” Lott said as the Senate was to begin hearing arguments on whether the charges should be dismissed, “so I think This specific was a not bad accomplishment.”
Throughout the 5-week trial, senators set the rules for specific summons in addition to motions, in addition to then Rehnquist enforced them.
In one of the notable rulings beyond what was pre-arranged, Rehnquist prohibited the House managers, pressing the case for Clinton’s conviction, by calling senators “jurors.” Siding having a Democratic senator who had objected, Rehnquist declared: “The Senate is usually not simply a jury. This specific is usually a court in This specific case.”
On more consequential matters, Rehnquist could have asserted himself. A provision of the 1986 Senate rules dictates: “the Presiding Officer on the trial may rule on all questions of evidence including, however not limited to, questions of relevancy, materiality, in addition to redundancy of evidence in addition to incidental questions … .”
of which could have forced senators to accept Rehnquist’s decision on a weighty matter, unless they voted to overrule him. however This specific never came to of which.
A different challenge
This specific time might be different, some have speculated. In an interview last Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the House Democrats might press at a Senate trial for testimony by White House officials who have so far refused to talk for the House inquiry.
Schiff said there was “merit to the idea of which [they] may get a quicker ruling by a chief justice in a Senate trial,” should This specific come to of which, than “going months in addition to months litigating.” Schiff also speculated of which Bolton in addition to others might be compelled to testify inside the Senate.
Two decades ago inside the Clinton trial, conflict arose between House managers in addition to senators over how many witnesses could be called in addition to whether they could be questioned in public. Senators agreed on three witnesses, none of whom appeared in public with the television cameras on.
Senators voted in public, 56-44, for the witnesses in addition to by a similar 56-44 tally of which rejected Byrd’s dismissal motion.
Rehnquist worked out of office space inside the Capitol in addition to brought legal briefs with him so he could keep up with the business of the court on breaks. Senate proceedings were regularly interrupted as leaders worked on the nuts in addition to bolts.
When he was inside the chair, Rehnquist consulted often with the Senate parliamentarian. Lott publicly laid out the ground rules in addition to timing for each side — the House managers in addition to Clinton’s lawyers. Lott then typically addressed Rehnquist in addition to said, “I believe we’re ready to proceed, Mr. Chief Justice.” The chief recognized individual speakers in addition to kept track of the time allotted.
inside the end, senators were not able to reach the requisite two-thirds vote to convict, in addition to on February 12, Clinton was acquitted on the charges of perjury in addition to obstruction of justice.
A week before This specific was all over, Rehnquist wrote to former Oregon US Senator Mark Hatfield. “I have been introduced to the ways of the Senate in a big way. Since there have been no live witnesses, there has been very little for the presiding officer to do, however This specific is usually interesting to see the Senate at work.”
additional letters in Rehnquist’s archive at the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University reinforce of which attitude. He often joked, taking a page by Gilbert in addition to Sullivan’s “Iolanthe,” of which he “did nothing in particular, in addition to did This specific very well.” A character in “Iolanthe” had also inspired the gold stripes of which Rehnquist affixed to the sleeves of his black robe a few years earlier.
Roberts, who declined to comment with This specific story, is usually unlikely to engage in such levity or don anything however the standard black robe.