Impeachment. It’s what Democratic operatives are already talking about as a 2020 campaign issue if Brett Kavanaugh gets confirmed to the Supreme Court, according to Axios.
Talk of impeachment comes after a contentious day of hearings on Capitol Hill with testimony from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who is accusing him of sexual assault.
Can a Supreme Court Justice be impeached? Yes.
Article III, Section I of the Constitution includes what is expected of federal judges in order to keep their spot on the Supreme Court bench: “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”
But when it comes to the allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh, the founding fathers didn’t specify what sort of behavior would constitute the removal of a judge.
The process to remove a Supreme Court justice is a lot like the process to remove a president or vice president — they can only be removed if they’ve been impeached by Congress.
The House of Representatives holds the power to begin an impeachment proceeding, and a simple majority vote is enough to approve impeachment. The matter would then move on to the Senate, where the bar is set much higher and a full two-thirds of senators would have to vote “yes” to remove a Supreme Court justice.
After being impeached by the House, a Supreme Court justice would then appear before the Senate for a “trial” similar to regular trials in the U.S., with the Senate acting as the jury. If the Supreme Court justice were convicted in the Senate, he or she would immediately be removed from office, and there would be no appeal.
The only Supreme Court justice to be impeached by the House of Representatives was Samuel Chase in 1804, but the Senate ended up exonerating him during his trial.