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A Senator is on record of having explicitly stated "I'm not an impartial juror" in regards to the upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate. Another Senator said, "I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I'm not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here, ...".

According to the Senate impeachment rules each Senator will be required to swear that they "will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws" during the trial.

Taking into consideration the earlier statement that the Senator is not (or had not the intention to be) an impartial juror, would that Senator commit perjury by swearing the aforementioned oath to "do impartial justice"? And, if so, what would be the potential consequences for that?

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    It would be dishonest, but I'm not sure how you'd be able to prove that he violated his oath. Are you asking more in the general sense of "would this meet the definition of perjury" or are you asking if there's any way for him to be held to account? – divibisan Dec 18 '19 at 21:24
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    @KDog The validity of the charges brought before the Senate in no way change the oath that Senator McConnell will give to Chief Justice Roberts to conduct impartial justice at the beginning of the Senate trial. That's a red herring in this discussion. – TemporalWolf Dec 18 '19 at 21:50
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    Thank you for the helpful comments and answer. To the people downvoting the question: I'd appreciate why you feel it "does not show research effort; is unclear or not useful" and what I can do to improve it (or should avoid doing in the future) - if I don't know what I am doing wrong, I won't be able to correct it. – Wandering Wonderer Dec 18 '19 at 22:45
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    @RickSmith The entire question depends on the quote itself, and the question would not make any sense without it. – JBentley Dec 19 '19 at 15:37
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    Just to clear things up: I never intended to "smear" or otherwise incite against the Senator initially mentioned. The whole situation merely really baffled and confused me, since I had a hard time reconciling the statement with being able to swear the oath (and assumed forswearing that oath would have some consequences) – Wandering Wonderer Dec 19 '19 at 21:42
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Taking into consideration the earlier statement that the Senator is not (or had not the intention to be) an impartial juror, would that Senator commit perjury by swearing the aforementioned oath to "do impartial justice"?

No. One may do impartial justice without being an impartial juror.

And, if so, what would be the potential consequences for that?

None. Unless the other political party gained a super-majority and invoked Article I, Section 5 to expel that Senator, based on their beliefs.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.


For the record,

It would appear that prosecuting a complaint under 18 U.S. Code § 1621 would require the court to review all the statements made by any Senator against whom the complaint is made. Under Article I, Section 6, such statements "for any Speech or Debate in either House, [...] shall not be questioned in any other Place" means the court cannot review those statements.

Therefore, no legal consequences.


18 U.S. Code § 1621.Perjury generally.

Whoever—
(1) having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or
...
is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. This section is applicable whether the statement or subscription is made within or without the United States.

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    It's worth noting that while protected from legal consequences, the Speech and Debate clause does not shield the Senator from consequences within the Senate. Chief Justice Roberts has a Constitutional obligation to preside over the impeachment. We can only conjecture at this point how he may decide if faced with making a decision on whether breaking the Constitutionally required Oath merits any action and, if so, what that action might be. – TemporalWolf Dec 18 '19 at 23:08
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    @TemporalWolf - When a Chief Justice presides over an impeachment trial, it is done as the presiding officer of the Senate and not as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Whatever consequences may ensue from actions of Senators will be in accordance with Senate rules. – Rick Smith Dec 18 '19 at 23:15
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    Yes, that was my meaning, perhaps that was unclear. The point is he is shielded only from legal consequences, not just any consequences. – TemporalWolf Dec 18 '19 at 23:35
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    One may do impartial justice without being an impartial juror. -- I don't see how. Those two things are inextricably linked. – Robert Harvey Dec 19 '19 at 17:45
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    @RobertHarvey Incorrect. For example, I can be pro- or anti-socialism while also being able to look at socialism as a concept and noting its flaws or positives. – Ian Kemp Dec 19 '19 at 18:57

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