Is John Roberts about to be the “umpire” in Trump impeachment trial?

As the eyes of the world turn to Congress to hear the outcome of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, USA Today reported that it would be Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts that would preside over an impeachment hearing, should the proceedings make it that far.

“I’ve argued in front of him 39 times, and I think what comes across is that he cares deeply about institutions,” says Neal Katyal, a former acting U.S. solicitor general who, like Roberts before him, heads appellate litigation at Hogan Lovells according to USA Today.

Roberts, 64, just began his 15th term as the chief justice of the United States after being appointed to the court by George W. Bush, but this wouldn’t be his first involvement in an impeachment case, according to the publication.

“The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist was a busy man on Jan. 20, 1999,” USA Today reported. “The impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton was in its second week, and Rehnquist had to stop presiding over an oral argument at the Supreme Court, cross the street, and preside over the Senate.

“One of the lawyers arguing before the high court that day was John Roberts. Once one of Rehnquist’s law clerks at the high court, Roberts could be juggling the same two jobs as his former boss soon.”

Katyal, like Rehnquist, says that Roberts would “work hard to be scrupulously fair in carrying out a unique constitutional function.”

The chief justice is currently hearing three major civil rights cases on the issues of gay and transgender rights and will in the coming months hear cases on abortion, immigration, religion and gun rights

“What’s more, Roberts now sits in the middle of the Supreme Court figuratively as well as literally,” USA Today reported. “With the retirement of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy last year, he has become the closest thing to a swing vote between four conservative and four liberal justices.”

Trump has already criticized Roberts, calling him an “Obama judge” last year over an immigration ruling. Roberts responded to the retort, saying, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” he said. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

Just last month while speaking in New York City Roberts told about 2,000 people at Temple Emanu-el in Manhattan, “When you live in a politically polarized environment, people tend to see everything in those terms. That’s not how we at the court function.”

Written by Savannah Pointer.

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