Democrats have been trying to bring down President Donald Trump for almost three years.
The Democrat-controlled House passed both articles — obstruction of Congress and abuse of power — against Trump almost a month ago after carrying out the most partisan witch hunt in modern American history.
Now, the trial will move to the Republican-controlled Senate — and things are about to get interesting.
It appears a different Supreme Court Justice could oversee the Senate impeachment trail, and if things play out a certain, way, it would be catastrophic for Democrats.
In a piece published on the legal blog Balkinization, constitutional law professors Josh Blackman and Seth Barrett Tillman argued that conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas could be the one who oversees the impeachment trial.
Why is this a big deal?
Blackman and Tillman write that the vice president usually presides over impeachment trials in the Senate.
But when it’s the president who is facing removal, that job falls to the Supreme Court’s chief justice — which, in this case, is John Roberts.
Initially, Democrats probably liked their chances given Roberts is usually the wild card on the court, meaning it’s never clear whether he will side with Republicans or Democrats with his vote.
But what if Roberts were to pass away, recuse himself, or otherwise become incapable of conducting his duties?
Blackman and Tillman write that the U.S. Constitution does not address the question directly, which means the next most senior Justice would lead the impeachment hearings in the U.S. Senate.
If Roberts doesn’t lead the hearings, that means it would go to Thomas, arguably one of the most conservative Justices on the court.
In the unlikely scenario that Roberts is unavailable, Clarence Thomas, the most senior Associate Justice, would preside.
The Constitution refers to a Chief Justice and ‘judges of the Supreme Court’—not ‘Associate Justices.’ The Judiciary Act of 1789, and not the Constitution, introduced the term Associate Justice.
This suggests that the First Congress intended that the other judges of the Supreme Court could serve as substitutes for the Chief Justice.
The authors go on to cite legislation from 1948 that states:
Whenever the Chief Justice is unable to perform the duties of his office or the office is vacant, his powers and duties shall devolve upon the associate justice next in precedence who is able to act, until such disability is removed or another Chief Justice is appointed and duly qualified.
In other words, if the Chief Justice cannot perform his duties, then the associate justice with the most seniority — known as the Senior Associate Justice — serves as acting Chief Justice.
Thomas has served on the Supreme Court since 1991, making him the most senior figure.
After weeks of stalling and delaying, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is finally sending the House-passed articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate this week.
But before the impeachment trial likely moves into the Senate — Democrats are whining, issuing ridiculous demands, and already claiming the process is “rigged.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already revealed exactly what’s going to happen when the impeachment trial moves into the Senate.
And if Thomas presides over the impeachment trial, it would be a double whammy for power hungry Democrats looking to abuse the system to remove a duly elected president.