Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) played the cards she held to the fullest of her ability, pushing Chief Justice John Roberts to read aloud a question taking a snipe at his own legitimacy during Thursdays’ question-and-answer portion of the impeachment trial.
“At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution?” Justice Roberts read after signaling that the question from Warren was for the House managers.
The question left Roberts with what appeared to be a grim look on his face.
As The Hill notes, as the presiding officer over the impeachment trial, Roberts is required to read senators’ questions aloud.
And that question comes at a key time during the impeachment trial when it could come down to Roberts to make a legacy-shaping decision, as CNN notes.
With a vote expected on Friday over whether to seek additional witnesses that could end in a 50-50 split, Democrats have been arguing that in that case, Roberts should be able to break the tie, according to the report.
Typically, when the vice president presides over the Senate, he is the tie-break if a vote in the Senate is split, something that is specifically outlined in the Constitution. As CNN clarifies, in the case of a trial of a President, while the Constitution says that a chief justice shall be the presiding officer, the power of that chief justice is not detailed.
A chief justice breaking a tie in votes is not unheard of. Chief Justice Salmon Chase did so twice in the trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868, however, that precedent remains controversial, according to CNN.
Whether Roberts will decide to intervene or not is left to be seen.