Editorial: Congress not unbiased jury in impeachment
A jury has been seated for the trial of Rahmael Holt in the November 2017 shooting death of New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw, slated to start Monday.
The jury selection took days. In any such process, there are questions about whether jurors knew the defendant or the deceased. There are questions about bias and an ability to be impartial. There is an attempt on both sides to make sure that the 12 people who hear the case are able to make a decision after hearing the evidence, not before.
It would be nice if Congress was like that.
On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the rules for the impeachment probe regarding President Trump. The procedures passed, by a vote of 232 to 196. For those doing the counting, there are 234 Democrats in the House, 197 Republicans and one independent.
The party-line vote came as a surprise to almost no one. It shouldn’t. Most congressmen have already made their positions clear and are on record calling for impeachment, calling for the investigation, or opposing it.
The Senate is no different. That’s where the 53 Republicans hold the gavel over the 45 Democrats and two independents who caucus with them. They are just as loud in their support or opposition.
Few in either chamber have been like Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Mt. Lebanon, who issued a statement saying his vote only pertained to outlining the rules.
“I have not made any decision about impeachment, nor will I until all the evidence is in,” he said.
If the Senate is the jury in an impeachment, the House is the grand jury that decides if there should be a trial at all.
With that in mind, members of Congress should keep their mouths shut and their minds open as the evidence comes in so that their votes can be trusted to be grounded in reality and not partisanship when they are cast.