Impartial Justice and Republican Morals
On Tuesday, January 27th, the Senate was sworn in as jurors for former President Trump’s second impeachment trial.
As part of their oath as jurors, they swear, under oath, the following words:
I solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be,) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of , now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: so help me God.
This is not different than the juries present at trials around the county. When you join a jury trial, you are supposed to be impartial.
All decisions made should be guided by the facts presented. The evidence should be the sole deciding factor when the jury votes guilty or innocent.
Every decision made for their future conviction should be judged in a vacuum, unaffected by who this individual is, or what the repercussions of the decisions might be.
That’s the ideal.
That is what every juror around the country is expected to do when they are placed on a jury.
Now, the Senate is the jury.
Unfortunately, I have my doubts that they can keep their oaths.
No evidence has been given yet. But many Republican Senators are already ready to dismiss the case.
They haven’t heard from the impeachment managers all of the reasons that they believe it is constitutional to impeach a president after he has left office, but they already held a vote on it, and most Republican Senators were already ready to declare it unconstitutional.
If we were trying to seat a jury for a criminal case, would you fill it with employees of the person being charged? People who know they will be fired if their boss is convicted?
That would be absurd.
And yet, in a case that involves the leader of a country sending a force holding flags with his name on it, against the lawmakers as they are about to confirm that he is losing power… this is half of the jury.
The Republican half of the Senate know that many of the people who put them in office also supported this president. They know that if they put their name to this president’s impeachment, they will lose their voters, and thus their jobs.
That is not even counting the Senators that may have actually been accomplices to the crime.
For many cases, which don’t involve the president, I can see the value in having an elected body make decisions for the country.
But for this impeachment trial, as well as every impeachment trial in American history, I personally feel that Congress is not the right body to make the decisions regarding the impeachment of the president.
Because it can never be impartial. As you look back in history, you can see an obvious party split on every impeachment trial.
Trump’s second trial was the most impartial in history, and that only had 10 Republicans cross the party line.
The Founding Fathers lived in an era when oaths meant something.
They believed that the elected officials had honor and high morals. They would be people capable of rising above the petty partisan fights to abide by their oaths to deliver impartial justice on impeachments if the need arose.
They obviously knew that Congress was formed from the results of elections, they wrote it into the Constitution.
They probably guessed that some members of Congress would have supported the President that was accused of a big enough crime to be impeached by the House of Representatives.
But those foolish, idealistic founding fathers assumed that if a leader committed a crime big enough to be impeached by the House, it would be easy for the Senate to put aside their politics, listen to the evidence and the experts and agree on his or her guilt or innocence based on facts, evidence and the law- not on what their constituents think.
I have completely lost faith in Republican leaders at this point.
Unlike most presidents who came before him, Trump was never an example of how to act. Say what you want about his policies or politics, you cannot convince me that he was an example of how we want our kids, leaders, employers, etc. to act.
The elected Republicans, who I could have still respected, should have held him accountable.
But instead they defended him. Had excuses for him. Even dismissed the charges last year, calling it a witch hunt, when he pressured another country to find evidence to help him get reelected.
More disappointing, most of these leaders didn’t call his lies out. Even lies that lead to the riot on January 6th.
Republican leaders, here is your chance to return to the moral values you claim to follow.
Don’t hide behind the shallow at best “it isn’t constitutional” defense. Logically, because impeachment includes the ability to not let the impeached person run again, it has a place even after they have left the office.
If you truly feel it isn’t a valid procedure- don’t show up. The law states that a guilty vote is required by 2/3 of Senators present. Your presence is not required for it to continue.
Any Senator with a strong, true, moral conviction that these proceedings should not go forward should forfeit their vote. It is not fair for you to vote on someone’s guilt or innocence based purely on “we shouldn’t be doing this.”
That isn’t your verdict.
That is a cop out.
If you don’t want to weigh in on guilt or innocence… don’t.
If you choose to stay, choose to participate, and choose to hear the evidence- listen.
Separate yourself from all of the voices shouting at you outside that court room, telling you what to do, including the voice of the man on trial and on the same group whose insurrection caused the trial.
You agreed, under oath, to be an impartial judge.
That means that you need to leave your party affiliation at the door of that chamber.
That means you are supposed to listen to the evidence as to the guilt of the person on trial.
Any Senator willing to be in that room for the vote has an obligation to vote as people on a jury would vote. After hearing the evidence and both sides present their case, determine with a fair and open mind the verdict you believe is right.
We, the people of the United States, trust you with that job.
Are you able to keep your oath to be impartial?
Alexander Hamilton had high hopes for the Senate.
It wasn’t the only place debated as which governing body would make the final call on impeachment. But it was what they eventually agreed on.
In the Federalist №65, he said this:
The Convention thought the Senate the most fit depository of this important trust. Where else than in the Senate could have been found a tribunal sufficiently dignified, or sufficiently independent? What other body would be likely to feel confidence enough in its own situation, to preserve unawed and uninfluenced the necessary impartiality between an individual accused, and the representatives of the people, his accusers?
There is immense, enormous trust placed in the hands of every Senator who attends the trial starting in February.
Trust that each will be able to make decisions that affect the future with impartiality, and with an eye towards the solid, factual evidence.
At the moment, I don’t trust that the Senate Republicans can do that.
I fear that they will both claim that this trial shouldn’t take place, and also cloud the final judgement with a vote against the trial, instead of against the person accused.
Dear Republican leaders, if you have any sense of integrity left, please, either boycott the so-called “unconstitutional” trial or judge former President Trump based on his actions, starting long before the election, and culminating with the riot and his lack of action against his rioting, destructive, threatening supporters on January 6th.
Our country is counting on you.
More than that, if you personally feel that he is guilty, but decide to break your oath and vote that he is innocent (which is what acquittal is), and he runs again in 2024 and wins, all of his future actions as president are on your shoulders.
To be abundantly clear, I have an opinion on his guilt, but I don’t need the Senators to agree with me. I just want them all, no matter the party, to vote based on the evidence and keeping with their oath, and not based on some excuse to keep their job and their status in the party.
That is the moral, right, ethical thing to do.
If they are brave enough to do it.