Impeachment, McConnell, and Separation of Powers
What we witnessed on February 13, 2021 with Mitch McConnell’s reason for voting not guilty in the impeachment trial of ex-president Donald Trump, is the Senate playing the Judicial Branch.
The question on whether the Senate had jurisdiction to hold impeachment trial was raised, and voted on. The Senate’s vote was that it had jurisdiction.
In a regular court of law, once a judge has ruled, the issue can no longer be argued, and jurors are instructed not to consider the issue during deliberations. However, the Senate is not a court of law. Mitch McConnell disregarded the majority Senate vote and used the issue of constitutional jurisdiction to acquit ex-President Donald J. Trump.
The argument over whether the Senate has jurisdiction to hold an impeachment trial for a government official no longer in office, is over a hundred years old. In 1862, it was federal judge West Hughes Humphries. In 1876, it was Secretary of War William Belknap. So, why hasn’t a federal court settled the question?
The most logical answer I have for that question is because Congress has not petitioned a federal court. Congress does not have authority to interpret the Constitution. That authority rests with the Judicial Branch.
According to USHistory.org federal judges have declared over 100 federal laws unconstitutional. Federal Courts have authority to interpret the Constitution. The only way to resolve this problem is for Congress to legislate law establishing that government officials, including presidents, can be impeached by the House, and impeachment trials held in the Senate, after they are no longer in office.
If an organization or other members of Congress disagree, they can petition a federal court to decide if the law is unconstitutional. Whether or not it works in favor or disfavor is not the issue but rather, to have the matter settled once for all. This is necessary because with Mitch McConnell giving the green light to Trump, Americans can bet that politicians, more specifically Republicans/ Trumpublicans, are going to violate their oath of office, commit treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors at the midnight hour, and get away with it. If holding impeachment trial after the person is no longer in office is held unconstitutional, then federal law enforcement will know what it must do, while Congress carries along the business of the people.