Did Mitch McConnell and other Senators act outside the law?

By | Saturday, February 13, 2021 Leave a Comment
OK, I am confused. 

I am not a lawyer, but I thought I understood the law in this case.

As of February 9, 2021 (last Tuesday), there was there was an undecided question about an ambiguity in impeachment law. The Senate was asked to decide if the Constitution allows for a former President, who has been impeached by the House, to be tried in the Senate after leaving office. By a vote of 56 to 44, the Senate voted that yes, the Constitution grants it the jurisdiction to try a President after they have left office. Decision made; law decided. This was then the law of the land, and the Senate proceeded with the trial.

This afternoon, on February 13, 2021 (Saturday), Mitch McConnell spoke before the Senate saying that: (A) He was certain that former President t**** had incited the mob to insurrection. But (B) he did not believe that the Constitution allows for trying a former President. Thus, he said, he voted to acquit t**** because the trial should not have occurred.

But wait. Hang on here. The US legislature decided a point of law, thus setting the law unless and until new law overrode it, or the courts struck it down. Then a jury (who also happened to be the Senate), heard the case presented by prosecutors and defense. That jury was supposed to hand down a verdict based on whether or not they believed that the defendant was innocent or guilty as charged. The jury was not being asked whether or not the law was valid.

McConnell, and other Senators, decided to acquit t****, even though they felt he was guilty, on the basis that they didn’t agree with the law. Isn't that the same as if a jury, hearing a case against a doctor that performed an abortion, found the doctor guilty of murder because they didn’t agree with how Roe v. Wade was decided? Or wouldn't it be the same as if a judge handed down a sentence on a person found guilty of a hate crime, using the criteria for a non-hate crime, because that particular judge didn’t agree with hate crime legislation?

Juries don’t get to decide the law. They only get to decide if the law was broken. Judges only get to decide the law if it is ambiguous. Otherwise they only get to decide what the sentence should be. It doesn’t matter what they think of the law. Right?

So, am I wrong? If McConnell believed that t**** incited the insurrection, then he should have been compelled to find him guilty. Other Senators announced ahead of time that they would be acquitting t**** because they didn’t agree that he could be tried. But as jurors, it was not within their purview to make such a decision. Didn’t they invalidate themselves as jurors by refusing to give their honest opinion on the facts of the charges, and vote based solely on those facts?

I’m confused.
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