The Senate’s Duty to Put Mayorkas on Trial

April 8, 2024

When House Speaker Mike Johnson sends the Senate the articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is obligated to prepare for a trial. Instead Mr. Schumer plans to offer a motion to table the articles of impeachment by majority vote.


The Constitution, Senate rules and precedent are clear: The Senate has an obligation to vote on articles of impeachment. In the nation’s history, there have been 21 instances in which the House has sent articles of impeachment to the Senate. In three of those cases, the official who was impeached had left office, so the Senate didn’t proceed. In the other 18 cases—including Donald Trump’s second impeachment, which the House delivered after his term ended—the Senate conducted a trial and senators ultimately voted guilty or not guilty. That’s the process demanded by the Constitution and clearly laid out in the Senate rules.


During its ordinary business, the Senate routinely takes up motions to table legislation and other matters. But when sitting as a court of impeachment, the chamber operates under special rules that resemble a court’s process to preserve justice, protect the accused person’s due-process rights, and ultimately render judgment on the charges. The impeachment rules have no provision for a motion to table.


Republicans have respected this process. We were in the majority during President Trump’s first impeachment, in 2020. We fulfilled our constitutional duty and held a full trial on the floor. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, Senate Democrats are trying to destroy yet another precedent and further politicize the impeachment process. They want to avoid an uncomfortable election-year discussion about President Biden’s biggest failure: the U.S. southern border invasion. Democrats will shatter another norm and set a dangerous precedent that they’re going to regret.


Why would they do it? Because Mr. Schumer wants to prevent the House impeachment managers from presenting evidence of the disaster that has unfolded on the southern border because Mr. Mayorkas refuses to follow the law. He wants to avoid news coverage of how bad the border crisis is.


He also wants to insulate Democrats from having to vote guilty or not guilty. By tabling the articles of impeachment, Democrats don’t have to go on the record either admitting that Mr. Mayorkas is violating the law, or condoning his actions and failures to act.


That Mr. Schumer would shirk the Senate’s constitutional duties and defy 200 years of precedent demonstrates how terrified the Democrats are that the American people will realize the vast human suffering their open-borders policies have produced. Mr. Schumer has an incentive to pretend that the charges against Mr. Mayorkas are baseless, as American outrage at the unprecedented invasion of millions across our southern border endangers Mr. Biden’s re-election and Mr. Schumer’s majority. Americans shouldn’t take his word for it—they should demand a trial.

As published in the Wall Street Journal