Does the US Supreme Court have the authority to rule on impeachment matters?
Yes, currently, Democrats face consequences of skipping floor impeachment vote discusses the attempt by the House to access the grand jury records from the Mueller investigation.
The White House, in a letter Tuesday criticized as advancing a legally flimsy argument, told the House it would not participate in an impeachment inquiry that hasn’t been authorized by the full House — which they argue means it isn’t “a valid impeachment proceeding.”
And a federal judge, hearing arguments Tuesday about whether the House Judiciary Committee should get grand jury materials from the special counsel report from Robert S. Mueller III as part of an impeachment inquiry, questioned when she could know such an inquiry had begun if there wasn’t a floor vote.
“Where are you suggesting I should draw lines?” Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell asked House General Counsel Douglas Letter.
The issue of when the House is in an official impeachment inquiry came up Tuesday in federal court. Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, filed a brief in the House application to obtain normally secret grand jury material to point out that prior presidential impeachments were authorized with a floor vote.
Collins wrote that the House would be able to get the grand jury material if the full House voted to authorize a formal impeachment proceeding, but that hasn’t happened.
“Without an explicit authorization from the full House, the Court has no determinative measure of when an official impeachment proceeding has begun and when the Committee is merely exercising its normal oversight powers,” Collins wrote. “Votes — not words or press conferences by Members, the Chairman, or the Speaker — are the mechanism through which Congress acts.”
Howell asked about that Collins argument, saying he’s “got a very clear line.” Letter, the House general counsel, responded that the House is in a formal impeachment inquiry “because the House says it is. The speaker of the House has said it is.” And lawmakers are spending “one heck of a lot of time” on impeachment, Letter added.
The court is required to decide whether the House is conducting an impeachment inquiry (a legal matter) under Federal Rules for Criminal Procedure Rule 6(e)(3) before releasing the grand jury records.
(E) The court may authorize disclosure-at a time, in a manner, and subject to any other conditions that it directs- of a grand-jury matter:
(i) preliminarily to or in connection with a judicial proceeding
Article III, Section 2:
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, ...
It being that cases regarding impeachment may arise under the Constitution, the Court may have a say. What the Court may say is limited by the Constitution.
THE CONSTITUTION of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION, pp 657-658.
Judicial Review of Impeachments
It was long assumed that no judicial review of the impeachment process was possible, that impeachment presents a true “political question” case, i.e., that the Constitution’s conferral on the Senate of the “sole” power to try impeachments is a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of trial procedures to the Senate to decide without court review. That assumption was not contested until very recently, when Judges Nixon and Hastings challenged their Senate convictions.907
In the Judge Nixon case, the Court held that a claim to judicial review of an issue arising in an impeachment trial in the Senate presents a nonjusticiable “political question.” Specifically, the Court rejected a claim that the Senate had departed from the meaning of the word “try” in the impeachment clause by relying on a special committee to take evidence, including testimony. But the Court’s “political question” analysis has broader application, and appears to place the whole impeachment process off limits to judicial review.
907 Both judges challenged the use under Rule XI of a trial committee to hear
the evidence and report to the full Senate, which would then carry out the trial.
The rule was adopted in the aftermath of an embarrassingly sparse attendance at
the trial of Judge Louderback in 1935. National Comm. Report, supra at 50–53, 54–
57; Grimes, supra at 1233–37. In the Nixon case, the lower courts held the issue to
be non-justiciable (Nixon v. United States, 744 F. Supp. 9 (D.D.C. 1990), aff’d, 938
F.2d 239 (D.C. Cir. 1991), but a year later a district court initially ruled in Judge
Hastings’ favor. Hastings v. United States, 802 F. Supp. 490 (D.D.C. 1992), vacated,
988 F.2d 1280 (D.C. Cir. 1993).
While Judicial review of impeachments is not available, certain subpoenas, as part of the whole impeachment process may be questioned in court.