July 15, 2016

FLASHBACK: Impeachment of Associate Justice Samuel Chase. “Chase openly campaigned for the reelection of John Adams in 1800, and when the presidential election was thrown into the House of Representatives, he prevailed upon members of Congress to vote against Jefferson. After Chase used a grand jury charge to denounce Republicans for the repeal of the Judiciary Act of 1801, Jefferson suggested that Congress consider impeachment. The House of Representatives impeached Chase in March 1804, citing the partisan grand jury charge, Chase’s conduct in the trials of Fries and Callender, and his actions in Delaware when he “did descend from the dignity of a judge and stoop to the level of an informer.” The only Supreme Court justice to be impeached, Chase was acquitted in the Senate trial. The closely watched proceedings, however, marked the end of such openly partisan behavior on the part of federal judges as well as the end of the brief Republican effort to remove unsympathetic judges.”

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