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Expert: The Courts Have a Big Role to Play in Impeachment

September 11, 2018 8:45 AM
Alina Hernandez ahernandez4@tulane.edu

Visiting Professor of Law Ross Garber spoke at Tulane Law on Constitution Day -- observed annually in honor of the signing of the U.S. Constitution –  with a lecture titled, “The Role of the Judiciary in Presidential Impeachments."

Garber is a legal analyst at CNN and nationally-recognized expert on the law of impeachment. The New York Times recently profiled Garber, saying he “has arguably become the nation’s leading impeachment lawyer,” having represented four governors facing impeachment proceedings over the past several years.

He told students and faculty gathered in the Wendell H. Gauthier Moot Court Room  that impeachment is commonly considered a “political” process that is essentially unbounded by the law or judges.  But, despite this,  judges have played significant roles in impeachment processes and may yet become even more important in the future.

Garber, who is currently teaching  a mini-course on Political Investigations and Impeachments at Tulane, discussed the courts’ established role in deciding issues bearing on Congressional subpoenas and other investigation-related  matters. He also addressed the role of the Chief Justice in Senate impeachment trials and the areas left for direct judicial intervention after the Supreme Court’s decision on Judge Walter Nixon's impeachment. Nixon, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, was impeached and removed from office in 1989 after being convicted on charges of giving false testimony to a grand jury investigating allegations he had committed bribery.

Garber is a partner at Shipman & Goodwin, in Washington and Hartford, and co-chair of the firm’s Government Investigations and White Collar Crime Group. Most recently, Garber represented embattled former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, a decorated Navy SEAL and rising GOP star, who resigned in late May after a scandal involving a sexual relationship with his hairdresser. Garber has also represented Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama, Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Gov. John Rowland of Connecticut when they faced investigations or impeachments.