Roberts rules

Senate Minority Leader Schumer seems to have thought he might get 50 votes for the Dems’ motion to add “witnesses” and “documents” to the case assembled by the House impeachment managers. Planning ahead, Schumer wondered what might happen in the event of a tie vote on the Dems’ motion.

Schumer raised the issue by way of an “inquiry” to Chief Justice Roberts this past Friday, seeking to have Roberts commit himself to breaking a tie vote if one should materialize. In support of the implicit argument of his “inquiry,” Schumer cited two instances in which Chief Justice Salmon Chase made tie-breaking votes in the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. Roberts was prepared to address the issue and provided what I thought was a devastating response — a response that exposed the thinness of Schumer’s “inquiry.”

Erielle Davidson notes the exchange in “Chief Justice Roberts Is Right: An Unelected Official Should Not Cast Tie-Breaking Votes.” She doesn’t put it in the context of the Dems’ brouhaha about “witnesses,” which is where I think it belongs.

Davidson quotes Roberts: “I do not regard those isolated episodes 150 years ago as sufficient to support a general authority to break ties. If the members of this body, elected by the people and accountable to them, divide equally on a motion, normal rule is that the motion fails. I think it would be inappropriate for me, an unelected official from a different branch of government, to assert the power to change that result so that the motion would succeed.”

Were it not for Twitter, I wouldn’t have seen this exchange. I am posting the tweet with the video below for readers who might find it of interest, as I did.

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