On Wednesday, ascendant freshman Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) had some particularly harsh words for the way House Democratic impeachment managers comported themselves thus far during the Senate’s nascent impeachment trial.
“#ImpeachmentTrial Day 1 = epic fail for House managers,” Hawley tweeted. “Used 13 h[ou]rs to grandstand, repeatedly taking rebuttal time just to delay. Attacked senators. Alienated their audience. Admonished by the Chief Justice for unprofessionalism. If this is best they can do, should just stop now.”
#ImpeachmentTrial Day 1 = epic fail for House managers. Used 13 hrs to grandstand, repeatedly taking rebuttal time just to delay. Attacked senators. Alienated their audience. Admonished by the Chief Justice for unprofessionalism. If this is best they can do, should just stop now
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) January 22, 2020
But Hawley, a formerly prolific constitutional attorney and Missouri attorney general who once served as a law clerk on the U.S. Supreme Court for Chief Justice John Roberts, also had some strong words to describe the Democratic antics that precipitated his former boss’s remarkable rebuke, in the wee hours of the morning, of the rambunctious trial he saw unfolding before him.
As The Daily Wire reported earlier today, Roberts reprimanded what he deemed the overly fraught and puerile behavior of the dueling parties:
“It is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Roberts sternly rebuked. “One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner, and using language, that is not conducive to civil discourse.”
“In the 1905 [Judge Charles] Swayne [impeachment] trial, a senator objected when one of the managers used the word ‘pettifogging’ — and the presiding officer said the word ought not to have been used,” the chief justice continued. “I don’t think we need to aspire to that high a standard, but I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are.”
The chief justice’s excoriation took Hawley aback: As Fox News reports, Hawley said he has “never heard [Roberts] deliver an admonishment like that from the bench ever.”
“He chooses his words very very carefully,” Hawley continued, according to Fox News. “He cited a 1905 case impeachment case in which … one of the sides was … using language that was thought to be inappropriate. And so while he was careful to … I think … to be even-handed about it as is appropriate judicially, it’s very clear what the impetus for that was … [Rep. Jerry] Nadler [(D-NY)] getting up and calling the president’s counsel a bunch of liars.”
“I mean, that’s an extraordinary thing to say on the floor the United States Senate the middle of the trial and that’s what drew the rebuke [from Roberts] and rightly so,” Hawley concluded. “I can tell you, there was an open, open gasping on the Senate floor when Nadler was saying these things.”
Chief Justice Roberts, a George W. Bush high court nominee who is widely reputed to care tremendously about preserving the purported non-politicization of Alexander Hamilton’s “least dangerous” branch, famously analogized the role of a Supreme Court justice to that of a baseball home plate umpire calling balls and strikes during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.
“[T]his time, [Roberts] really is just the umpire,” Politico observed earlier this week. “He’s not the one we’re tuning in to see, and the game’s most important decisions and actions belong to other people. And the rulings he makes, for once, can be made under an umpire’s decision-making conditions: All by himself, yes or no, and maybe in real time.”