Why the First Supreme Court Impeachment Was the Last (So Far)
Plus, ‘Thirteen Lives’ and ‘Samaritan’ Reviews.
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LINDSAY M. CHERVINSKY: Why the First Supreme Court Impeachment Was the Last (So Far).
On February 4, 1805, Vice President Aaron Burr gaveled into session the impeachment trial of Justice Samuel Chase for high crimes and misdemeanors. The stakes were impossibly high. No Supreme Court justice had ever been impeached. Every decision would establish precedent and shape future proceedings—so that the aftermath of the trial lasted far longer than the participants could have possibly imagined, down to the present day. Our ideas about impeachment and its role in the justice system can be directly traced to Chase’s trial, over two hundred years ago.
Chase certainly made an excellent target. Outside of his family, no one liked him. When George Washington nominated Chase to the high court in 1796, many Federalists questioned whether he had the temperament to serve as a justice, even though he belonged to their party. Over the next several years, their concerns proved prescient. District Judge Richard Peters wrote in 1804, “Of all others, I like the least to be coupled with him [when Chase “rode the circuit” to serve as a district judge]. I never sat with him without pain, as he was forever getting into some intemperate and unnecessary squabble.” His cantankerous and querulous nature was so extreme that it earned him the nickname “Old Bacon Face.”
Bad humor was one thing, but Chase’s behavior on the bench was also highly partisan. He had campaigned openly for John Adams in 1800 and relished handing down extreme sentences to defendants accused of sedition against the Adams administration. Most recently, he had “endeavor[ed] to excite the odium of the said grand jury, and of the good people of Maryland, against the government of the United States” during his jury instructions.
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SONNY BUNCH: ‘Thirteen Lives’ and ‘Samaritan’ Reviews.
Thirteen Lives, the real-life story of the rescue of a soccer team running out of air in a flooded cave in Thailand, is Ron Howard’s best movie since Apollo 13, the story of the real-life effort to save a trio of astronauts from running out of air in a spacecraft headed to the moon.
Ron Howard: the auteur of asphyxiation!
What both films present is a sort of promise. “Here’s a true-to-life story,” Howard is telling us. “I know how it ends. You know how it ends. You know it ends well. You know that the story is going to come out okay for most everyone involved. I’m going to take that knowledge and use it as an excuse to make you as tense as possible for the next couple of hours. Deal?”
And then he lives up to his part of the deal. Boy does he.
It’s Friday, and it’s fall. I hope the weather is nice where you are. I spent the morning out on the deck with coffee enjoying the cooler weather here in D.C. this morning with my dogs. Couldn’t have a better start to a holiday weekend.
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The owners of the Browns, the Haslams, go all-in on J.D. Vance… That tracks.
A Jewish burial in Texas… A touching thread.
The strangest Senate race in America… Is in Utah.
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