Perloe: Urge Republican Senators to Honor their Oath to Deliver Impartial Justice

Open letter to Judy Perry Martinez, President, American Bar Association, from Jonathan Perloe, Greenwich

Dear Ms. Perry Martinez,

I am writing, backed by the signatures of 420 Americans from across the country, asking that you use the authority of the American Bar Association to urge the 53 Republican Senators who are sitting in judgement of the President to honor their oath to deliver “impartial justice.” This is a follow-on to the op-ed I had published in the CT Mirror earlier this week.

“A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety,” reads the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct. It is clear on its face that 53 of the judges, all Republicans, now sitting in the impeachment trial of President Trump are in gross violation of this code.

How do we know this? Every one of them refused, at the outset of the trial, to allow the House managers to call witnesses during the trial proceedings. Some, as explained below, have gone further.

Something needs to be done. The Bar Association needs to hold these judges to account. As the president of the Association, representing more than 350,000 members, I am urging you to speak out to uphold your mission to “defend liberty and deliver justice.”

I know some attorneys will dismiss this petition with arguments like “you don’t understand the role of the ABA” or “Senators aren’t members of the judiciary or the bar.” That misses the point. This is a moral and ethical argument, not a legal or constitutional one. The ABA speaks with authority. Its authority should be used. Others will say, “they aren’t judges,” ignoring that Senators sitting in the trial have been referred to as judges numerous times – because they, as the Constitution says, sit in “Judgment in Cases of Impeachments.”

Some Senators have gone well beyond the unfair decision not to call witnesses or allow new documents to be admitted.

Explains the conservative Heritage Foundation, “the requirement that Senators be on Oath or Affirmation in impeachment trials was plainly designed to impress upon them the extreme seriousness of the occasion.” Yet judge Lindsey Graham (R-SC), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, intended to violate his oath from the outset, telling reporters in December that he’s “not trying to pretend to be a fair juror.”

Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) audaciously announced that he would defer to the White House on matters concerning the conduct of the Senate impeachment trial. He told Fox News, “I’m going to take my cues from the president’s lawyers.”

I think it’s fair to say that any federal or state judge who so blatantly conspired with the defense counsel would be impeached and removed from office in short order. As president of the ABA, Ms. Perry Martinez, you should call on McConnell and Graham to recuse themselves.

Leader McConnell went further, deciding to speak for the entire jury of 100 Senators before the trial even started. He announced in December, “There’s no chance the president’s going to be removed from office.” Imagine the public outrage if a federal judge opened a trial announcing the verdict before the trial commenced. Attorneys in the 2,300 prosecutors’ offices around the nation should be raising their voices in opposition to this miscarriage of justice.

The public is outraged. According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, large majorities of Americans, including at least 70 percent of Republicans, said senators should “act as impartial jurors” and that they “should allow witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the impeachment charges to testify.” Senator Angus King (I-ME) reported that nearly 100 percent of the calls to his office support calling witnesses.

I ask you to heed the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday was celebrated the day before Donald Trump’s impeachment trial began: “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” In this case the betrayal is of the Constitution and the American people.

With the debate on witnesses commencing Friday, there is still time to make your voice heard.

With respect,
Jonathan Perloe