While people like Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Senator who seems to have lost his moral compass after the death of John McCain, runs his mouth off about impeachment, other Senators remain quiet. Some have even taken a “vow of silence.” As Texas A&M law professor Lynne Rambo notes at The Conversation, such a vow of silence is appropriate. In an impeachment trial, the Senate serves as the jury. And who wants members of jury going public with their thoughts about the trial? Here is a taste of her piece:
Several Republican senators have taken a “vow of silence” on the impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives.
Maine Senator Susan Collins has described her position this way: “I am very likely to be a juror so to make a predetermined decision on whether to convict a president of the United States does not fulfill one’s constitutional responsibilities.”
From a purely political standpoint, the senators’ choice is beneficial for both parties. The senators cannot find it easy to speak approvingly of the president’s opportunistic conduct with foreign countries, so silence is probably the most graceful position for the Republican Party.
The silence is also helpful from the Democratic Party’s perspective. Democrats would no doubt prefer that the senators just abandon Trump immediately, but that seems unlikely to happen. The silence at least preserves the possibility that they will convict Trump if and when the time comes.
That said, there is nothing requiring the senators to remain silent on the issues. No written law or rule instructs senators to take that approach. The Senate’s Rules on Impeachment Trials do not address pretrial conduct at all.
The senators’ choice seems to stem instead from a decision to treat the impeachment proceeding much like a judicial trial. As a professor of Constitutional law, I find that analogy quite apt.
Read the entire piece here.