Howard Polonsky: Confused by Senate’s vote on impeachment

Published: 2/21/2021 5:00:27 PM

The U.S. Senate prides itself on what it sees as its proud traditions. After the Supreme Court, it is the part of government most steeped in following precedent.

The House impeachment managers took up this mantle and brilliantly presented the precedents of the Senate in impeaching federal officers after those officers had already left governmental office, using both the facts of precedential cases and the writings of the Founding Fathers in what they intended.

Not so surprisingly, the former president’s lawyers didn’t dispute these precedents in any reasonable manner. And then the Senate voted on the constitutionality of holding an impeachment trial of a former U.S. president and voted that they, indeed, did have the constitutional authority (if not the constitutional duty) to do so.

In such matters, the Senate is the court of last resort. The Senate has the final word on the constitutionality of that decision. There is no higher body to appeal it to. It is the law of the land if the Senate says it is. How on earth, then, can Republican senators expressly declare that they are convinced the former president of the United States committed the heinous crimes he was lawfully impeached for, and then acquit him for those very same crimes claiming the trial was unconstitutional because the Senate cannot try a former president after that president is no longer in office, contrary to the very tradition, law, and constitutional authority they had just acknowledged and established in their binding decision a mere four days earlier?

Is this derangement, hypocrisy, a blatant violation of law, or all of the above?

Howard Polonsky

Northampton




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