Law prof slams Mitch McConnell over impeachment trial, praises Chuck Schumer
A Boston College law professor wrote an op-ed about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying that the Kentucky Republican is on the verge of violating his constitutional oaths when it comes to President Donald Trump's pending Senate impeachment trial.
Professor Kent Greenfield, who is originally from Kentucky and clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter, wrote that McConnell “is about to breach two” of his oaths while Trump will be on trial in the Senate for breaching his presidential oath.
Greenfield started the op-ed, published by the Louisville Courier-Journal, with, "We Kentuckians know that our word is our bond. Oaths are the most solemn of promises, and their breach results in serious reputational — and sometimes legal — consequences."
Greenfield outlines the three oaths he says Trump and McConnell allegedly broke.
He first stated that faithfulness is the core of the presidential oath, writing, “this promise mirrors the responsibility mentioned later in Article II that the president ‘shall take care that the Laws be faithfully executed.'"
He then posed the question about what the opposite of faithfulness is, and said that it is “corruption and abuse of power."
“And those constitutional sins, of course, are exactly the basis of the House's vote to impeach President Trump and will be the focus of the Senate’s trial,” Greenfield continued. He then explained the second oath as an “Oath … to support this Constitution."
“The third oath is the rarest. The Constitution gives the Senate the 'sole' power to 'try all impeachments,' and the Constitution requires that 'when sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation.' This special oath only kicks in when the Senate tries an impeachment, and this will be only the third time when a president has been so tried. The framers wanted to make sure the Senate would never take such a trial lightly — this oath requirement is over and above the oath each senator has already taken to support the Constitution,” he wrote.
The professor said that there are indications that McConnell will not carry out “impartial justice” and that while every senator has a “constitutional obligation” to be impartial, he believes that McConnell’s obligation is more important and crucial to the Constitution.
However, Greenfield said that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer from New York is “hitting the correct tone” and called for the Senate to subpoena documents Trump is allegedly hiding.
“The GOP line that the whole process is based on hearsay — not even accurate as an evidentiary matter — could be easily ameliorated by hearing from more people who have direct knowledge of Trump’s mendacity, abuse of power and attempts at cover-ups,” he wrote.
Greenfield then concludes that all senators should “take their obligation of faithful impartiality seriously, especially McConnell."
The professor also appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 and stated, “It’s fine for people to follow the evidence, but it's not fine for people to prejudge and create and choose the outcome." He also appeared on Boston Public Radio and The Last Word on MSNBC to discuss his op-ed and thoughts on McConnell’s role in the impeachment process.
Greenfield taught Constitutional Law: Speech & Religion in Fall 2019, and co-authored an amicus brief for Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission with the argument that the for-profit corporations should not be afforded the same religious freedom rights as individuals. He is set to teach Constitutional Law: Supreme Court Experience in Spring 2020.
On Rate My Professor, students have left both positive and negative comments about Greenfield.
One student commented, “He clearly is a smart dude, which I appreciate. But if he is so into his own career he shouldn’t be a professor. Law school should at least half be about preparing us for our legal careers, not canceling more than half of our classes so he can go on a tour and promote his book.”
Another commented, “incredible professor lectures are consistently engaging as he spends time relating class discussions back to current events. Readings though dense and lengthy were valuable. Critical on writing assignments, original thought is definitely encouraged/rewarded.”
Campus Reform reached out to Boston College Republicans, Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans, and Boston College but did not receive comment in time for publication.
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