Not much of a surprise
; Rehnquist's death opened up the possibility and the Chief Justice position is more often than not filled by someone w/o any SCOTUS
One thing that I had
forgotten about is the fact that "The Constitution
stipulates that the Chief Justice shall preside when the Senate tries an impeachment of the President of the United States" [Article I, Section 3, Clause 6].
Hmmm... Mister Bush is looking ahead, is he not? According to this American Bar Association document
, "The Presiding Officer makes initial rulings on motions and objections, but these judgments may be reviewed by the Senate and reversed by a simple majority."*Scenario 1*
Let's pretend for a moment that it's late 2006, the House votes through articles of impeachment and it goes to the Senate -- which will likely still have at least 51 (R)s -- for trial. Barring an (R) actually deviating from his/her party line, any initial ruling on motions and objections will
stand -- these are GWB's pals, underlings, and sycophants we're talking about here. I can hardly imagine all the objections to evidence and potential testimony; I can easily imagine Roberts sustaining objections up the wazoo.*Scenario 2*
Maybe the Bush camp wants
this Roberts thing to drag out and sees an incredibly lengthy set of Roberts confirmation hearings as nothing more than a win-win scenario; if he's eventually approved, they win... if he's not approved, think of this:
Let's still take everything from Scenario 1 above, but this time think of a case where no Chief Justice sits, i.e. Roberts' nomination is either (1) still being held up in the Senate, or that (2) Roberts not confirmed, no other potential SCOTUS justice nominated/confirmed by this time, and no Associate Justice raised to Chief Justice.
Who presides over a presidential impeachment in this case? The Vice President.
That's right: Dick Cheney.