But in contrast to when the robe-clad Roberts oversaw then-President Trump’s 2020 trial, Leahy will routinely slip into his senator position for votes, together with on whether or not to convict or acquit the previous president of inciting the lethal January 6 rebel on the Capitol.
The 80-year-old Vermont Democrat — who’s the chamber’s president professional tempore, or the longest serving senator of the bulk occasion — might additionally find yourself voting on knotty motions associated to proof and witnesses.
Roberts declined to vote in final 12 months’s trial associated to Trump’s Ukrainian dealings, and when particularly requested if he would break a tie, the inscrutable chief justice mentioned, “It would be inappropriate for me, an elected official from a different branch of government” to steer the result.
“That isn’t an issue for Leahy,” noticed Michael Davidson, a former Senate authorized counsel. “He is part of the body that is conducting the trial. … His state will still have his representation in the Senate.”
Just because the first-ever impeachment trial of a former president will break new floor in America, so will the twin roles of Leahy. He can have a mannequin within the actions of two chief justices of the United States, Roberts with Trump in 2020 and William Rehnquist with President Bill Clinton in 1999.
Sources aware of Leahy’s preparation say he’s reviewing how the 2 males presided and is wanting to patterns set by the chief justices in an effort to implement Senate trial procedures, keep a way of decorum and keep away from driving the arguments of both aspect.
Leahy will essentially break, nevertheless, from the primarily ministerial place assumed by Roberts and Rehnquist.
Leahy already voted as soon as after being sworn on January 26 as presiding officer, with the 55-45 majority that rejected a transfer by Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul to block the trial from going ahead. That vote might be a preview of the final word consequence, an inadequate variety of Republicans voting with Democrats and a Trump acquittal: The Senate trial course of for a president resembles that for judges and different officers impeached by the US House. In all circumstances, the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote for conviction.
Leahy, who has vowed to be truthful and neutral, is declining interviews, in accordance to a spokesman.
How Roberts and Rehnquist ran trials
Roberts and Rehnquist tried to guarantee an orderly continuing and undertake a secondary position for themselves. They stored the clock and enforced guidelines that the Senate management had devised. They conferred with the Senate parliamentarian (presently Elizabeth MacDonough) and labored from rigorously outlined scripts.
Roberts intervened final 12 months to admonish a testy trade between House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and White House counsel Pat Cipollone. Roberts quoted from the impeachment trial of Judge Charles Swayne of Florida.
When then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put Roberts on the spot about voting to break a tie, the chief justice mentioned, “If the members of this body elected by the people and accountable to them divide equally on a motion, the normal rule is that the motion fails.” Roberts refused to “assert the power to change” a consequence.
Roberts, when he was completed final 12 months, expressed his gratitude to senators for aiding him in his “ill-defined responsibilities in an unfamiliar setting.”
The Constitution says solely that, “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.”
Leahy had beforehand mentioned Roberts was “the first choice” for this second trial of Trump, though he’s not a sitting president. Schumer, now Senate majority chief, mentioned in an interview on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” that “it was up to John Roberts whether he wanted to preside with a president who’s no longer sitting … And he doesn’t want to do it.”
Roberts has declined requests to touch upon the matter.
Leahy will naturally forgo the black gown, but he’ll undertake a few of the trappings of a particular presiding officer. He is predicted to work out of the glittery, chandeliered President’s Room close to the Senate chamber, as the 2 chief justices did. And as they did, sources aware of the senator’s preparation say Leahy will take his lead on the procedural particulars from Senate leaders, together with when to start and finish every day.
Senate guidelines, not judicial observe, usually cowl impeachment trials, that are inherently political affairs. The Supreme Court in a 1993 case mentioned the Senate has the only duty for making an attempt an official who has been impeached. In 1999, Rehnquist described the Senate as sitting primarily as a court docket, not merely as a panel of jurors.
Because conviction requires a two-thirds vote, Leahy’s place as Democratic senator is unlikely to be determinative. But different procedural issues might pose difficult dilemmas.
Senate guidelines say the presiding officer might rule on all questions of proof, but that if a senator objects, the officer could be reversed by a majority vote of the Senate.
Leahy might sidestep ruling on a controversial challenge that may predictably immediate an objection, and as a substitute put the matter immediately to the complete Senate, which is presently divided 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats.
Trump denies that he incited the mob that descended on the Capitol, and his attorneys argue that the Senate has no authority to strive him. They say as soon as he left workplace on January 20, he can not be topic to a Senate impeachment trial.
And they maintain up the absence of Roberts as one piece of proof for the general unconstitutionality of the trial, asserting, “(T)he constitutional mandate for the Chief Justice to preside at all impeachments involving the President evidently disappeared.”
On the broad challenge of the constitutionality of making an attempt Trump, the House managers insist, “There is no ‘January Exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution. A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last.”