Politics His role ceremonial so far, Roberts’ views could still impact impeachment trial
Rand Paul on Senate trial: 'I don’t think any Republicans are going to vote for impeachment'
Sen. Rand Paul said Republican senators would effectively be ending their careers if they vote to convict and remove President Donald Trump. Speaking to The Hill in an interview, the Kentucky senator said, “I really think the verdict has already been decided as well. I don’t think any Republicans are going to vote for impeachment.” The House voted last month to impeach Trump. Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
His role ceremonial so far, Roberts’ views could still impact impeachment trial
As Chief Justice John Roberts presides over President Trump’s impeachment trial and listens as Democrats argue for access to witnesses and evidence, he might be reminded of something he wrote as a law student more than 40 years ago.
The Senate impeachment trial simplified: What you need to know explained
All eyes will be on the United States Senate on Tuesday as it resumes just the third impeachment trial in the nation’s history. Here's what will happen in layman's terms.In the historic lead-up, Capitol Hill has morphed into a ceremonial display, with solemn tradition — and a lot of scripted jargon and unfamiliar terms.
As managing editor of the Harvard Law Review in 1978, Roberts took issue with a recent Supreme Court decision denying a request by San Francisco public television station KQED for access to Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. The court ruled that access to the jail, and to sites or information controlled by the government, is not protected by the First Amendment.
The ruling “should not be considered as standing for the proposition that there is no First Amendment right of public access to government-controlled institutions,” Roberts wrote. He said constitutional standards could be defined for “limiting the right of access within workable bounds” in such cases.
Leslie Marshall: How will Trump’s impeachment affect November elections?
Will the impeachment of President Trump help or hurt Democrats? It depends who you ask and if polls are accurate. © Provided by FOX NewsAccording to a CNN poll out this week, 51 percent of Americans want the Senate to remove our impeached president from office. The Republican-led Senate voted Tuesday and Wednesday morning to block more evidence, documents and witnesses from being presented in Trump’s impeachment trial at this time. But a new Monmouth University poll shows that 57 percent of Americans believe the House impeachment managers should be able to present new evidence and witnesses in the Senate trial.
The article was unearthed recently by William Bennett Turner, who represented KQED in the 1978 case. Now a lecturer in media studies at UC Berkeley, Turner was then teaching at Harvard Law School, though Roberts was not one of his students.
“It would be nice if he could recapture his enthusiasm for the public’s right to know,” Turner said. “He’s got an opportunity in presiding over impeachment” and in Supreme Court cases that also involve Trump.
Roberts has played a largely ceremonial role in the Senate impeachment trial, which began Tuesday. He intervened briefly to admonish representatives of both sides to “remember where you are” after each accused the other of lying.
Later in the session, Senate Republicans, by a party line 53-47 vote, defeated a Democratic proposal to allow Roberts, rather than the Senate majority, to decide whether to subpoena witnesses and documents.
57% of likely voters support removing Trump from office, poll finds
As the Senate begins its second day of the trial of President Donald Trump, a Microsoft News poll finds that 57 percent of likely voters support removing him from office. The poll found that 57 percent support a Senate vote for removal, and just 37 percent oppose. Pro-and-con views were much closer before the House voted on Dec. 18 to send articles of impeachment to the Senate -- today the two views are 20 percentage points apart, and before the vote they were just 10 points apart. Not surprisingly, there are huge differences on the vote by party.
But the issue may still wind up in Roberts’ lap. After opening arguments by both sides conclude next week, the Senate is scheduled to vote on whether to call witnesses, which ones to call and whether they should testify in public — particularly former national security adviser John Bolton, a critic of Trump’s dealings with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky that led to the House impeachment vote.
Administration officials previously indicated that Bolton, if called as a witness, would have to testify behind closed doors. Trump said Wednesday that Bolton should be barred from testifying because of his knowledge of state secrets. Democrats would likely challenge any such restrictions before Roberts, whose ruling — if he chose to issue one — would require a Senate majority vote to overturn.
If Republican leaders “were to get too far out of bounds — for example, refusing to allow the full Senate to consider evidence that is plainly relevant or attempting to introduce evidence that plainly has no relevance at all — the chief justice is there to make judge-like rulings,” said Rory Little, a law professor at UC Hastings in San Francisco and a former Supreme Court law clerk.
CNN cancels Democratic presidential town halls because of impeachment trial
CNN has canceled the Democratic presidential town halls scheduled to take place next week ahead of the Iowa caucuses because of the ongoing impeachment trial, a CNN spokesperson said Thursday. The network is working on rescheduling the town halls, the spokesperson said. CNN was scheduled to host the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination at live, back-to-back town halls on January 28 and 29 from the campus of Drake University. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, businessman Andrew Yang and businessman Tom Steyer were scheduled to appear on Tuesday.
Disputes over witnesses could also reach Roberts’ court. A federal appeals court is considering the Trump administration’s attempt to prevent a House committee from questioning former White House Counsel Don McGahn about Trump’s alleged interference with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, an issue that could lead to further impeachment charges.
The Supreme Court is also scheduled to hear arguments in March on whether House committees and Manhattan prosecutors can obtain tax records and other financial documents that the president has refused to disclose.
The chief justice presides over a court with a 5-4 conservative majority. But Roberts occasionally changes sides and votes with the more liberal justices, as he didthat upheld most of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
And as Turner, the Berkeley law professor, pointed out, Roberts told a law school audience in Nashville last year that “I’m probably the most aggressive defender of the First Amendment” on the court. “Most people might think that doesn’t quite fit in with my jurisprudence in other areas,” he said. “People need to know that we’re not doing politics. We’re doing something different. We’re applying the law.”
Schiff slams GOP senators on whistleblower questions: 'Disgraceful'
"Members of this body used to care about the protection of whistleblower identities," Schiff told the senators.The question, from Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Ted Cruz of Texas, Joni Ernst of Iowa and others, asked about allegations that National Security Council staffers had said they had to "take out the president," and that one of those people now works with Schiff and has a relationship with the whistleblower.
He didn’t convince Erwin Chemerinsky, the UC Berkeley law school dean, who has argued several cases in Roberts’ court.
“I am skeptical that he is the biggest free-speech defender on the court,” Chemerinsky said when shown Roberts’ comments. “I also don’t know whether his views from 40 years ago in a different context matter much here.”
He cited Roberts’ vote withthat found no First Amendment protections for government employees speaking on workplace issues, and his 5-3 ruling in 2007 that of a high school student for carrying a banner that read “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” at an off-campus event.
Roberts’ court has supported free expression in other cases, such as the 8-1 ruling in 2010 that overturned a federal law banning “animal cruelty” videos, and an 8-1 ruling in 2011 striking down California’s ban on the sale of violent video games to minors.
The court also cited First Amendment rights in two of its most important rulings of the past decade: the 2010 Citizens United decision allowing unlimited corporate spending in elections, andthat allowed nonunion government employees to refuse to pay fees to unions for the costs of representing them at the bargaining table.
Commentators have noted that the court showed more sympathy for the free-speech claims of corporations and nonunion members than for similar claims by a left-leaning nonprofit that proposed to offer human-rights training to two groups on the U.S. terror list. Roberts’ 6-3 ruling in 2010 allowed the nonprofit to be criminally prosecuted.
Warren puts Justice Roberts in awkward spot with Supreme Court legitimacy question
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced a seemingly awkward dynamic into the impeachment proceedings when she asked if Republicans' likely refusal to allow new witnesses in President Trump's trial would diminish trust in the chief justice or the Supreme Court."The question from Senator Warren is for the House managers," Roberts began."At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the supreme court, and t
But Democrats with few other options in the impeachment trial might have some hope of redress from a justice who publicly describes himself as a free-speech advocate.
And Roberts could play a crucial role if the Senate deadlocks.
When senators are evenly divided, the Constitution says the vice president, as presiding officer, can cast the tie-breaking vote, an option that has been used 269 times in history,
The Constitution designates the chief justice as the presiding officer in presidential impeachment trials — which means, according to Joel Paul, a constitutional law professor at UC Hastings, that Roberts could cast the decisive vote if the Senate were to split 50-50 on calling a witness or taking testimony in public.
Roberts is “very much of an institutionalist, who is likely to defer to the Senate in the way in which the trial is being conducted,” Paul said. But in a 50-50 vote, he said, the chief justice “might be forced to take a position,” and “I think his inclination would be to vote in favor of public access.”
A previous version of this story misstated William Bennett Turner’s position at UC Berkeley. He is a lecturer in media studies.
Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email:Twitter:
Mic fight? Nadler appears to rush ahead of Schiff to offer closing remarks .
"Jerry, Jerry, Jerry," Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, can be heard calling after him.The moment came after Chief Justice John Roberts read the final question from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., which asked House managers to give senators any additional thoughts before the trial adjourned for the evening.
What is Chief Justice Roberts' role in impeachment trial?
Chief Justice John Roberts was sworn in Thursday to preside over the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. How he navigates the political and partisan ...
U.S. Senate opens impeachment trial with Chief Justice Roberts as presiding officer
The U.S. Senate has formally opened an impeachment trial against President Donald Trump. Chief Justice John Roberts has been installed as the presiding ...