John Roberts’ decision not to preside over the impeachment trial may not give Republicans a legal opening. But it sure gives them a political one. https://t.co/ybTtC8RyEV
— Greg Stohr (@GregStohr) January 27, 2021
Nice Polite Republican that he is (give me no guff about ‘judicial independence’), Roberts took the slim excuse that there’s no written instructions about impeaching an ex-president to scuffle sideways out of an unpleasant duty… and let the Democratic senators take the full load of a Republican Administration’s misconduct. May he regret this Jesuitical misdeed to the end of days, and may his children grow up telling people ‘it’s a very common surname, Roberts’.
There’s nothing about this situation spelled out in the Originalist Constitution of Roberts’ dreams because its writers never expected a world where the small group of educated, propertied White men who made up the national government would need to prevent a criminal ex-President from taking further advantage of his ill-gotten gains. Roberts doesn’t need an imagination to understand why keeping Trump from running again might be to the benefit of our American commonwealth… but he also doesn’t need much imagination to see how presiding over such a trial would hurt him personally, so fekk a bunch of historical precedent, John Glover Roberts washes his soft, lily-white hands and turns away.
From Bloomberg, “Trump Trial Without Chief Justice Lets GOP Talk Optics, Not Riot”:
U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts’s refusal to preside over Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial is giving Republicans an opportunity to focus on the Senate’s process rather than the specifics of the insurrection charge against the former president…
Roberts’s decision to skip the current trial without any public explanation leaves a Democrat already on the record as favoring conviction, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, overseeing the trial when it gets underway the week of Feb. 8. That opens it up to accusations of being a more partisan — and less judicial — process than in Trump’s 2020 impeachment.
Republicans are seizing on Roberts’s absence to question the trial’s legitimacy and deflect attention from the substantive charge that Trump incited the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The increasingly partisan nature of the debate was on display Tuesday, when 45 of the Senate’s 50 Republicans supported an unsuccessful bid to declare the case unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office.
“If a Democratic senator is presiding over the impeachment of a Republican president rather than a Republican-appointed Supreme Court justice, it makes the entire proceeding look much more partisan,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “We’re not talking about what’s legal here. We’re talking about political perception.”
Roberts has refused to comment on the impeachment trial, even leaving it to lawmakers to convey that he had declined to take part. His silence has left others to speculate on his reasons and debate the significance of his decision…
Without Roberts, “the optics are going to be manipulated,” said Melissa Murray, a New York University law professor. His absence will give cover to “those who may be concerned about condoning the conduct that gave rise to the impeachment article but don’t necessarily want to be on record to convict the president because of the way it might inflame the base.”
And also to those (now in the majority of the Republican party) who don’t give a damn about the law, except as it can be used as a figleaf for their crimes.