With the Senate impeachment trial of Judge G. Thomas Porteous of New Orleans coming up in August, I took a swing at the impeachment articles against Porteous in an item on Huffington Post. Although Judge Porteous has a lot of conduct to explain, there are some constitutional issues surrounding the articles against him, including:
- Whether a federal office-holder can be removed for actions undertaken before he took the federal office?
- Whether impeachment and removal can be based on largely private offenses (such as President Clinton’s false testimony about Monica Lewinsky)?
- Whether an article of impeachment should include a number of allegations in an attempt to secure the needed two-thirds majority of the Senate, a practice that places the accused at a distinct disadvantage, and which was rejected by the Senate in the last judicial impeachment trial in 1989 (in which I was defense counsel for Walter Nixon)?
Judge Portesou seems committed to carrying his case through the entire Senate process, having just added lawyers to his defense team.