Is the Senate Capable of Conducting a Fair Impeachment Trial?
As a previous Professor, I of course always am concerned with the educational backgrounds of people to fill certain positions. This of course has to be time weighted, since in all fields, it only takes a few years for progress in a field to supersede what was taught in schools and texts. That is why I like lifelong learning, and following general science magazines, since they keep you up to date. Of course, lawmakers come from many fields of experience, and undoubtedly keep up in the areas in which they serve on committees.
While all law schools have first year requirements in Constitutional law, the rarity of impeachments and Vice Presidential takeovers means that they are not the usual topics for such courses. Actually, to cover all of Trump’s challenges to Constitutional law, it would chew up the whole law school curriculum. You know who would be great commenting on Constitutional Law? Constitutional Law Professor and Past President Barack Obama.
With those caveats, we note that 54% of Senators have law degrees, and 37% of Representatives. In Congress,16 Republicans have degrees from the top 14 law schools, and 58 Democrats have degrees from them.
43% of Senate Republicans, or 23 of the 53, have law degrees, and 64% of Senate Democrats, or 30 out of 47, have law degrees. 4 Republican Senators have degrees from Harvard, as well as 4 Democratic Senators. For a guilty determination in the Senate impeachment trial, two thirds or 67 votes are needed. With 47 Democrats possibly voting for impeachment, except maybe in some swing districts, then at least 20 Republican Senators are needed to vote for impeachment.
There are other ways to judge the fairness of the Republican Senate’s judicial actions. We start with why there were so many judicial openings left for Trump to fill. The Republican Senate left 59 Obama nominations unacted upon. Then, there was the Supreme Court vacancy that Mitch McConnell would not act upon, despite there being most of a year until the next President would take office. Then there are the 9 Trump nominees for judgeships that were rated Not Qualified by the ABA. Five of those were installed, and two are still pending. Finally, there is the new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was charged with attempted rape, given a white-washed limited and rapid investigation, and confirmed, despite showing a lack of judicial temperament by throwing a hissy fit in his Judicial Committee hearing.
We can also judge the Republican’s approach by their actions and accusations at the House hearings. Then there are the Republican Senators stating impeachment judgements before the House investigation was hardly underway, or charges determined, or the case having been submitted to them, or the trial having taken place. Hardly an acceptable unbiased jury. If anything, the House hearings are turning up daily surprises in the depth of constitutional violations.
How can we fail to mention the supposedly independent Attorney General William Barr, who was to be Trump’s lead man in the Ukrainian investigations, despite his supposedly not knowing about it. At least AG Jeff Sessions had the honorableness to recuse himself for being involved in the 2016 Russian foreign influence campaign. Yesterday, AG Barr, speaking to the Federalist Society, accused the Democrats of forming a “Resistance” immediately after Trump’s election.
Finally, the play calling for the opposition starts at the top, with President Trump himself. Today, he incredibly tweeted House Intelligence Committee Head Adam Schiff as “Schitt”. Adam Schiff is a California Democrat, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and a graduate of Stanford and Harvard Law School. Yesterday, Trump accused 9 people involved in the Mueller investigation of lying, and added “Crooked Hillary”, “Shifty Schiff”, and Mueller himself, violating their Fifth Amendment Due Process Rights. Need I say more?