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The Impeachment of Samuel Chase: Redefining Judicial Independence

Adam A. Perlin

affiliation not provided to SSRN

June 11, 2010

Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 62, No. 3, p. 725, 2010

This article hopes to make the following contributions to the existing academic scholarship:

First, some legal scholars have ignored how the impeachment contributed to the modern apolitical judiciary or have construed its contribution too narrowly. This article provides a fuller explanation of the impeachment’s contributions to our modern understanding of judicial independence and what properly constitutes an impeachable offense.

Second, the article touches upon the contribution the debates over Chase’s impeachment made to more peripheral subjects, such as the debates over jury nullification and judicial review.

Third, this article fills a void in the academic literature, as there are almost no articles fully addressing the “story” of Chase’s impeachment and even fewer which analyze the importance of the debates in the House of Representatives and the examination of the trial witnesses.

Given the increasing attention devoted to judicial activism and persistent calls for the impeachment of federal judges, the lessons of the Chase impeachment are perhaps more relevant today than ever before. By addressing the issues mentioned above, this article endeavors to draw greater attention to a major event in American legal history and to give a turning point in the history of impeachment and the judicial branch the attention it deserves.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 65

Keywords: judicial independence, Samuel Chase, impeachment, high crimes and misdemeanors, legal history, Thomas Jefferson, Federalists, impeachable offense, Supreme Court, John Marshall, jury nullification, judicial review, Robert Goodloe Harper, Luther Martin, John Randolph, Aaron Burr, grand jury charge

JEL Classification: K00, K40, H11

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Date posted: June 4, 2010 ; Last revised: November 7, 2011

Suggested Citation

Perlin, Adam A., The Impeachment of Samuel Chase: Redefining Judicial Independence (June 11, 2010). Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 62, No. 3, p. 725, 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1620106

Contact Information

Adam A. Perlin (Contact Author)
affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )
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