Trump Supporters Want John Roberts to Recuse Himself From Impeachment Trial

Tom Williams/Zuma

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

Follow me, if you will, on a brief hypothetical journey. Let’s say the House of Representatives draws up and passes articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Per the Constitution, Chief Justice John Roberts would preside over Trump’s trial in the Senate. Now, imagine Roberts—a George W. Bush appointee—recusing himself from the trial because he once publicly emphasized judges’ responsibility to act in a non-partisan manner.

That’s how influential Trump supporter and radio host John Cardillo would have it, the conservative Washington Times reported Sunday. Cardillo claims that a statement made by Roberts in November 2018—in response to Trump’s criticism of a federal judge—means that he is biased against the president.

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts wrote last year in a statement released by the court’s public information office. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

For Cardillo, these comments are apparently disqualifying. “There is already a crisis of confidence among the American people that we have a fair system of justice,” he said, according to the Times. “When you have a chief justice of the Supreme Court overtly making comments that are derogatory to the president of the United States, take all speculation out of the process.”

The framing of the article suggests the Times is taking Cardillo’s argument seriously, though the story does make clear that constitutional law experts roundly reject Cardillo’s reasoning. Orin Kerr, a scholar at UC Berkeley, called the argument for recusal “weak” and “hard to square” with the Constitution.

In the unlikely event that Roberts did decide to recuse himself, the most senior justice would step in, according to one expert cited by the Times. That’s Clarence Thomas, the most conservative member of the court.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate