Peter Hasson on July 10, 2018
Democratic Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison on Monday didn’t rule out the possibility that a Democratic Congress could impeach a Republican-appointed Supreme Court justice.
Ellison said Democrats probably won’t try to impeach a justice that President Donald Trump nominated to the court but said it “could theoretically happen.” Ellison, the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, previously claimed in May 2017 that Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch isn’t a “legitimate” member of the court.
Ellison on Monday hosted a community forum on the Supreme Court, where he was asked if there was “any possibility that the legislative branch would remove a Supreme Court justice.”
“You’d have to find some evidence of like, corruption, or something like that,” Ellison said, before another speaker, University of Minnesota Law School professor Jill Hasday, jumped into the conversation.
“I personally, unless you could find evidence that someone was corrupt, or potentially adamantly lying I think it would be very inappropriate. And I don’t mean out of my mind, I just disagree with you, really,” Hasday told the questioner. “I think that would be very inappropriate and a real threat to judicial independence. I think once someone is on the court, that’s basically it.”
“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 [Clarence] Thomas that I thought were very concerning to me as far as his impartiality,” Ellison responded. “So I agree with Jill, it’s probably not going to happen, but it could theoretically happen.”
Ellison’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.
Trump announced Monday night that he would nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would fill the seat vacated by retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Some liberal activists and journalists are already pushing for Democrats to expand the number of Supreme Court seats — and then promptly fill them with progressive jurists — once they’re back in control of Congress and the White House.