Today In Religion – Justice Samuel Chase

Justice Samuel Chase

The impeachment trial of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase begins.

Samuel chase gained the Supreme Court Justice chair in 1796. As a Federalist, he adamantly disapproved of Jeffersonian Republicans. He was not shy about sharing those views especially after the Republicans gained the congress majority. President Thomas Jefferson started the impeachment proceedings and the House agreed to it. They accused Justice Chase as someone who “behaved in an arbitrary, oppressive, and unjust way by announcing his legal interpretation on the law of treason before defense counsel had been heard.”

On November 30, 1804, the Senate appointed the committee for the trial. After a brief postponement, the trial began on February 1805. While the offense argued against Justice Chase’s actions, his defense team showed that Justice had behaved properly for his office. The defense argued that this impeachment was because the President did not like his rulings and views not because he had behaved badly.

In the end, the Senate acquitted Justice Samuel Chase, since they did not receive the two-thirds majority to impeach him. This trial gave precedence that the Executive or Legislative Branches could not impeach Justices when they did not agree with their opinions. Justice Chase kept his office and served until he died in 1811.


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