Tuesday, October 01, 2019

A Modest Proposal for Reform of Post-Impeachment Trials

On one hand, the impeachment process is not a "criminal prosecution."

On the other hand, it shares certain features with the US "justice" system. When considering impeachment, the House of Representatives acts, pretty much, as a grand jury. And after impeachment, a "trial" is held with the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court presiding and the Senate acting as a "jury."

If I hear that a grand jury is considering indicting someone for (for example) murder, and I run around yelling (or even just telling my friends) that the guy is guilty or innocent and should or shouldn't be indicted, I think it's reasonable to not seat me on the jury if he is indicted.

So I think the Constitution should be amended to add two features to the Senate "trial" --

  1. Conviction on a 2/3 vote of Senators actually voting, not of the whole Senate; and
  2. A "voir dire" process in which any Senator who can be shown to have expressed an opinion in favor of or against the impeachment is excused/excluded from the "jury duty."

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