Senate to hold impeachment trial for federal judge
Despite a packed schedule involving tax cuts and treaties, the Senate is scheduled to squeeze in some time this week to fulfill a constitutional duty it's exercised only 18 other times in its history.
Senators will consider four articles of impeachment against U.S. District Court Judge G. Thomas Porteous of New Orleans, who faces allegations related to decades of corruption. He allegedly maintained improper relationships with lawyers and bail bondsmen who appeared in his courtroom, made false statements about his personal bankruptcy, and lied to Senate and FBI investigators in the 1990s who conducted background checks related to his nomination to the federal bench. Mix in tales from the often-sordid state of Louisiana's politics -- episodes involving free shrimp, vodka and Las Vegas lap dancers -- and you've got the makings of some captivating C-SPAN2 coverage.
Porteous' defense team, led by George Washington University professor and frequent television legal commentator Jonathan Turley, has argued that the charges don't rise to the "high crimes and misdemeanors" threshold set forth in the U.S. Constitution.
Regardless, the House approved the articles of impeachment in March and the Senate Impeachment Trial Committee heard more than a week of testimony in September. The panel, led by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), prepared a summary of the trial that all 100 senators will consider starting today.
Senators will also hear closing arguments from Turley and the House lawmakers who presented the impeachment charges against him to the Senate panel. The 100 members of the jury -- sorry, the Senate -- will deliberate privately before holding votes on the articles of impeachment in open session.
And yes -- for those of you scratching your head, wondering, "When was the last time they did this?" -- the answer is 1999: Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist wore his gold-plated robe, future senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was a House impeachment manager, Arlen Specter was still a Republican (and oddly voted "Not proven"), and the Senate acquitted President Bill Clinton of impeachment charges.
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| December 7, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Congress, Eye Opener
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