When the US Senate moves forward with an impeachment trial of soon-to-be former President Donald Trump, senators would have full control over how they run it, based on history and Supreme Court precedent.
Trump, who desperately fought his first impeachment proceedings and has remained defiant through his second, could not appeal the Senate’s action.
The Supreme Court affirmed in a 1993 case that impeachment is the domain of the two chambers of Congress, with the US House having the right to accuse and the Senate the “sole” power to try the accusation.
Then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote that the Constitution leaves no room for judges to intervene in Congress’ business. To rule otherwise, Rehnquist said, would conflict with the framers’ intentions and expose the country to “months, or perhaps years, of chaos.”
Still, an array of questions has emerged since the US House of Representatives on January 13 impeached Trump, opening the door to a Senate trial, for inciting the violent resurrection at the Capitol on January 6.
Practical considerations hover along with substantive issues. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet set a date for delivery of the articles of impeachment to the Senate, and senators would be organizing a trial just as they take up the agenda of new President Joe Biden.