Impeach Justice Roberts?

As continued reports of excessive amounts of corporate cash flooding electoral races come in, the damaging impact of the Citizens United decision has become more and more clear.  Democrats have used the decision, and its impact, as a rallying cry of sorts and a way to unite and organize their base for November.  But for one Democrat in particular, this is just not enough.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore) told The Huffington Post last week that he was investigating articles of impeachment against Chief Justice John Roberts for perjuring himself during his Senate hearings.  The base of DeFazio’s charge is Roberts’ testimony that he would not be a judicial activist and that he would not overturn precedent.  In Citizens United, the Chief Justice did both.

DeFazio is primarily relying on Justice John Paul Stevens’s dissent in the case in which he protested that the case was not properly before the Court.  Indeed, the majority seemed to go out of its way to find a reason to rule on the broad First Amendment issue and Justice Stevens’s complaint was picked up by others in the minority.

That said, articles of impeachment against a sitting Supreme Court justice (or a sitting President for that matter) is not something to toss around lightly.  And while most Supreme Court confirmation hearings amount to nothing more than Kabuki theatre, even by those standards there is nothing in what John Roberts said during those proceedings that rise to the level of perjury, at least not on its face.

There is nothing I would like to see more than for Chief Justice John Roberts to step down (and take a few of his colleagues with him), and for Congress and the Court to remedy the significant damage done by Citizens United.  But impeachment is not appropriate in this case, nor is it something that the left should throw around in response to every unpopular Supreme Court decision.  The Roberts Court may very well be one of the most activist courts in the history of our nation.  And the Citizens United decision will likely be judged as one of the worst of its kind (akin to Dred Scott, for example).  But if our democracy is to function at all for the long term then we must have the patience and the fortitude to let policy right itself rather then suggest political witch hunts.

photo courtesy of Jeff Kubina via Flickr

190 comments

Edvanir L.
Edvanir L.3 years ago

Citizens united is a shame! But, for those who pay attention, the fact that our Democracy has shrank is not a surprise. Politic Scientists have said that America is becoming an Oligarchy like there's in Third World countries. OUCH!

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y.5 years ago

Funny how nearly 80 years ago, another Justice Roberts gave FDR a very similar headache which he resolved with political intimidation - but leaving the court intact.

At that time the country backed the President because the middle class was truly hurting and the poor were dying in the streets.

The fact we have almost come to this again is sad but necessary unfortunately. The Citizens United case opens up the coffers of corruption beyond belief, in a way the founding fathers could never have imagined.

Roberts is a nice fellow personally, it would be hard to impeach him. On the other hand Justices like Scalia, Thomas, and Alito are openly hostile to the middle class and working poor - impeach 'em all!

Jeff B.
Jeff B.5 years ago

Roberts & his 4 henchmen have turned the Supreme Court into a Republican tool to strip WE THE PEOPLE of our rights. Corporations are not people and Roberts is a political activist. IMPEACH ALL 5 OF THOSE CLOWNS!

Blast Dorrough
Blast Dorrough5 years ago

The grounds for impeachment of Roberts, along with Alito, Thomas, Kennedy and Scalia, should be treason based on the legal fiction of "Citizens United" written in mockery of their sworn oaths "to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Thomas, Scalia, Kennedy and the retired Sandra Day O'Connor should also be included in the Impeachment Indictment for their embracement of the legal fiction written in Bush v. Gore by then Chief Justice William Rehnquist, now dead and replaced by Roberts. The Rehnquist Supremes arbitrarily intervened and overturned the decision of the Florida Supreme Court having ordered the count of uncounted votes. The Rehnquist decision was clearly politically motivated because it, in effect, appointed George W. president. The "Bush v. Gore" perverters of our Constitution should be charged with treason for embracing legal fiction in perversion of our Constitution and in violation of their sworn oaths "to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Our system of government under a pure/true constitutional Republic free of corruptive forces will work. It doesn't work because We the People have yet to hold accountable the lawless and unscrupulous imagined nobility in on-going plunder of our Treasury and resources at will. These parasitical dregs of our society are afflicted with incorrigible delusions of "entitlement" to plunder our Treasury and resources at will with impunity. Jail for life might work.

Blast Dorrough
Blast Dorrough5 years ago

The grounds for impeachment of Roberts, along with Alito, Thomas, Kennedy and Scalia, should be treason based on the legal fiction of "Citizens United" written in mockery of their sworn oaths "to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Thomas, Scalia, Kennedy and the retired Sandra Day O'Connor should also be included in the Impeachment Indictment for their embracement of the legal fiction written in Bush v. Gore by then Chief Justice William Rehnquist, now dead and replaced by Roberts. The Rehnquist Supremes arbitrarily intervened and overturned the decision of the Florida Supreme Court having ordered the count of uncounted votes. The Rehnquist decision was clearly politically motivated because it, in effect, appointed George W. president. The "Bush v. Gore" perverters of our Constitution should be charged with treason for embracing legal fiction in perversion of our Constitution and in violation of their sworn oaths "to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Our system of government under a pure/true constitutional Republic free of corruptive forces will work. It doesn't work because We the People have yet to hold accountable the lawless and unscrupulous imagined nobility in on-going plunder of our Treasury and resources at will. These parasitical dregs of our society are afflicted with incorrigible delusions of "entitlement" to plunder our Treasury and resources at will with impunity. Jail for life might work.

Caitlin M.
C. J. O.5 years ago

Make that Jefferson and the Hazart reference is below.

Caitlin M.
C. J. O.5 years ago

I prefer Thomas Jefferson's solution as mentioned by Hazart S. above: Don't have a Judicial Branch with the power that it has. In lieu of that, impreachment of Roberts, plus the other 4 who made the recent disgusting ruling re corporate contribution to political campaigns. If that ruling doesn't prove Jeffereson's statement, I don't know what does! IMPEACH? YOU BETCHA!

Past Member
Past Member 5 years ago

Is stupidity endangered???? His vote probably would go against the endangered specie act . In that case............

James C.
James C.5 years ago

He should be empeached hes a very Corarate corrupt individual who obviosly is doing someone elses bidding and so far hes not shown a drop of neutrality. I beleave him and some politians in office and recently out of office should be tried for treason against the American People. washington doesnt even try to hide there corruption anymore they flaunt it.

Hazart s.
Hzt s.5 years ago

The judiciary is public enemy number one.

"The germ of destruction of our nation is in the power of the judiciary, an irresponsible body — working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall render powerless the checks of one branch over the other and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated."

- Thomas Jefferson