After the reversal of Roe v. Wade, many outraged activists have been rampantly calling for impeachment of the Supreme Court justices who deviated from answers provided during their confirmation hearings on this issue, citing perjury.
In looking to determine if impeachment is even an available and viable option, the answer is essentially yes to the former and no to the latter. Procedurally, as long as a majority of the House votes for impeachment, then the Senate needs to pass a conviction with a vote of 2/3 or 67 votes. Given the current reality of the political makeup of Congress, as The Hill reports, “any impeachment effort for a Supreme Court justice would face an uphill battle. Democrats now have 50 Senate seats, but not all 50 of those Democrats would be likely to impeach a Supreme Court justice” and it is extremely unlikely that Republicans would join the coalition to impeach.
It is worth noting that in the history of our nation, only one Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached. In 1804, Justice Samuel Chase was impeached by the House. However, he was then acquitted by the Senate in 1805.
NPR relayed what recently confirmed Justices Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and Brett Kavanaugh said regarding Roe v. Wade during their confirmation hearings. “Impeachment is typically reserved for perjury, fraud, gross misconduct, conflict of interest or high crimes,” and given the current strained and partisan political climate, pundits anticipate that it would be extremely difficult “because their comments could be interpreted in different ways.”
In sum, Gorsuch said, “I would tell you that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed…A good judge will consider it as precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other.”
Kavanaugh reaffirmed this sentiment. In September 2018, he said, “It is settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court, entitled the respect under principles of stare decisis…The Supreme Court has recognized the right to abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade case. It has reaffirmed it many times.”
Article continues after video.
In October 2020, when Barrett was asked about her beliefs on if the decision in Roe was correct, she avoided a flat-out answer.
“I can’t pre-commit or say, ‘Yes, I’m going in with some agenda,’ because I’m not” she said. “Judges can’t just wake up one day and say I have an agenda—I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion—and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world.”
Article continues after video.
After the June decision was released, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was one of the first to call out the three Trump-appointed justice.
“They lied…there must be consequences for such a deeply destabilizing action and hostile takeover of our democratic institutions…I believe lying under oath is an impeachable offense,” she said. “If we allow Supreme Court nominees to lie under oath and secure lifetime appointments to the highest court of the land and then issue — without basis, if you read these opinions — rulings that deeply undermine the human civil rights of the majority of Americans, we must see that through.”