The Supreme Court’s ruling last week in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, has led to accusations that justices lied during their confirmation hearings and calls for those justices’ impeachment. Pro-choice advocates and lawmakers care calling for “consequences” for members of the nation’s high court.
New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told NBC News that if “Supreme Court nominees lie under oath” and then issue rulings “without basis,” then “there must be consequences for such a deeply destabilizing action and hostile takeover of our democratic institutions.”
According to the lawmaker, if there are no consequences for these jurists, Congress will send a “blaring signal” to future nominees “that they can now lie to duly elected members of the United States Senate in order to secure a Supreme Court confirmation.” She added that she believes lying in a confirmation hearing is an impeachable offense.
Supreme Court justices have life-time appointments, meaning they do not leave the positions on the bench until they retire or pass away, unless they are impeached by the U.S. House and convicted by the U.S. Senate.
Only once in U.S. history has a member of the Supreme Court been impeached. In 1804, the House impeached Associate Justice Samuel Chase on charges of “acting in a partisan manner during several trials,” according to History.com. But he was never removed from the bench. In 1805, the Senate acquitted Chase, and he served until his death in 1811.
A Senate conviction requires a two-thirds majority vote — something Democrats currently do not have.
Conservatives who praised the Dobbs decision and have long maintained that the issue of abortion should be handled at the state level see the idea of impeaching the justices as political desperation.
President Joe Biden has told pro-choice activists who are demanding action by the federal government that voters need to take the issue to the ballot box.