Listen: Chief Justice John Roberts' Role in the Senate Impeachment Trial
"Wednesday's lengthy debate and vote the next stop for the articles of impeachment is the Senate. The constitution requires the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Preside over a Senate trial of the president. So it will be on Chief Justice John Roberts Roberts to take on that role. It's more public one for Roberts. Most of the High Court's proceedings take place behind closed doors and the Senate impeachment trial of president. Trump is shorts contract. Plenty of attention joining me now. From Washington with more details his Wall Street Journal reporter Jasper Raven so just before we get to you chief justice Robert Specific Role. What can you tell us about? How the impeachment trial in the Senate will work well actually? We don't really know to a large extent because the Senate has not adopted rules for this specific trial there are guidelines that the Senate adopted in nineteen eighty six before there were any twentieth century impeachment trials and they suggest that There will be the Senate will meet in the afternoon. There will be. Obviously a prosecution led by the house managers and a defense By the president's lawyers and there will be a presiding officer. That's the chief justice of the United States. The constitution actually requires that the chief justice preside when the president is Tried in an impeachment proceeding. We know that there have to be two thirds of the senators present voting to to convict otherwise The president would be acquitted of the impeachment charges. So we know those things we know as well that in contrast to a typical trial where the trial judge runs the show and while there can be objections. His decisions those Those have to be decided decided by higher courts Down the line in this court of impeachment as it's known the jury actually outranks the judge and can overrule him so so If the chief justice were to make a decision about Admitting evidence or particular arguments or whether to call a witness the Senate could by a simple majority vote overrule him And that's again something very different. It's like Having seven jurors Able to overrule the trial judge When he decides whether certain evidence is going to come in or not to criminal trial so that's one one distinction and in fact the The chief justice. It doesn't even have to make a ruling the nine hundred six guidelines say that he can choose to simply let the Senate vote he can punt and let them vote on those questions. uh-huh themselves directly so obviously impeachment is a highly polarizing issue and you write about how the presence of Justice Roberts could actually serve to calm that partisanship tell us a little bit more about given his history the role he might play here how he might direct proceedings. Well he's got very few precedents to go on on their only two prior Impeachment trials of a president and one one per century basically so there aren't a lot of simple models from to follow so but the chief justice runs the Supreme Court courtroom with a firm but not insensitive hand so he knows how to run proceedings. There's very little incentive for any of the parties to try to take him off because he will remain a very powerful figure in other settings for many years. Here's to come. Whether he can somehow alter the character of the town of the proceedings themselves is hard to say what he can do set. An example of how a federal judge behaves and how a judicial officers take their job and at a time when the judiciary like other institutions is under a a lot of criticism including From the president himself that may be valuable example to show to the public or turn of Li. It may not if things get out of hand and he you can't control it and it's a political circus and he is overwhelmed by it that that too will communicate a message. I don't think any of US expects that but A lot of unexpected things have happened in recent. Isn't years jazz as you point out aside from this impeachment trial president trump also has a lot of issues that are going to be coming before the Supreme Court which obviously Justice Roberts it sits on. That's a I think a a really important part of the dynamic to To keep in mind in this trial in this event although the the chief justice justice will have his black robes and he'll be sitting at the rostrum and you'll appear like a lordly magistrate overseeing these events The fact that he actually has on paper relatively little power because he can be so easily overruled by a majority of the Senate but coming up in the months ahead our are other matters involving president trump. Very important to whether he keeps his job in November when There will be another election. And what happens to him when he eventually leaves office. And that's because one of his important policies are currently in the hands of the Supreme Court For example the DACA program the temporary relief for for illegal immigrants brought to the US children president trump has sought to cancel that Obama era program. Lower courts have stopped him. The Supreme Court heard arguments about this and is going to decide. Probably June whether that program can be cancelled by the president or whether he has to take another crack at the rationale for ending it."