Impeachment: it’s not just for Donald Trump’s dinner any more. DNC Deputy Chair Keith Ellison took this question from a forum he put together in Minneapolis, specifically to discuss Democratic strategy on Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nomination. If Democrats took control of Congress in the fall, one participant wondered, couldn’t they impeach Trump’s Supreme Court nominees?
Theoretically, suuuuuure, Ellison replied (via Cortney O’Brien):
“It could theoretically happen,” Ellison (D-MN) said. But, “you’d have to find some evidence of like, corruption, or something like that.”
“I will say that there have been lower court judges who have been impeached and honestly there were some things that came out with Justice Thomas that I thought were very concerning to me as far as his impartiality,” Ellison added.
“It’s probably not going to happen, but it could theoretically happen,” he reiterated.
And more than just theoretically, this is precisely the kind of conversation Republicans want Democrats to have in the run-up to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. In fact, this video got clipped by the GOP’s social-media team, just to make sure everyone knows about the tenor of the opposition. The ads write themselves: “A vote for [Democratic candidate] isn’t just a vote for Nancy Pelosi — it’s a vote for Congress to abuse its power and impeach everyone they don’t like!”
If it doesn’t find its way into every purple-district TV ad space, someone at the RNC will need to hand in their resignation.
Of course it’s theoretically possible that Democrats could do it. Impeachment and its terms lie solely with a House majority; to borrow another legal adage, 218 House members could impeach a ham sandwich if they decided to burn all credibility and do so. To remove a judge takes 67 seats in the Senate, which has happened occasionally — but only for obvious reasons such as corruption. The political damage of attempting it without just cause, such as corruption or obvious impairment — or hopefully of even discussing it in terms of political retribution — cheapens impeachment and destabilizes the institutions of government, especially Congress.
What’s truly amusing about this is another participant in the Q&A practically gift-wraps the right answer for Ellison. “Unless you can find evidence that someone was corrupt or potentially out of their mind,” she objects, “I think it would be very inappropriate.” Instead, Ellison feeds the beast, remarking on lower-court impeachments and suggesting that he’d considered impeaching Clarence Thomas. Rather than take the opportunity to show that the Democratic Party has mature and responsible leadership, its deputy chair decided to spitball nihilism for a while. It seems the DNC’s inability to compete isn’t entirely inexplicable after all.