With key swing vote Lamar Alexander announcing he will vote “no” on witnesses, Democrats are scrambling for ways to keep their hope for witnesses alive.
If Murkowski votes “yes” as many believes she will, the Senate may end up with a 50-50 tie.
While in most cases, this would result in a failed motion, there is some historical precedent that Justice Roberts could potentially step in and break a tie.
Democrat Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) appeared on CNN and argued there is a “powerful argument” for Supreme Court Justice John Roberts to break a possible tie in a vote for witnesses.
.@SenBlumenthal says there is a “powerful argument” for Supreme Court Justice John Roberts to break a possible tie in a vote for witnesses.
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) January 30, 2020
Appearing on CNN after the Lamar Alexander announcement, Democrat Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) also said he would hope Justice Roberts would step in and break a potential tie.
Washington Examiner reports Senate Republicans told reporters on Thursday that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts could break a tie Friday if the Senate vote on calling impeachment witnesses results in a 50-50 split.
Referring to Roberts, who is presiding over President Trump’s impeachment trial, Republican Indiana Sen. Mike Braun told reporters in the Capitol, “If we end up in a tie vote, that could be overruled by the chair.”
Braun said most Republicans do not believe Roberts would intercede. “It’s unlikely that would happen,” he said.
Republicans and some Democrats said they do not support Roberts weighing in on a vote and anticipate he would not intercede.
“If it’s a tie vote, unless Chief Justice Roberts would intercede, it ends up dying,” Braun said, adding an intervention by Roberts “sets a questionable precedent, too.”
The vote on calling new witnesses will be a close one. While most Republicans oppose calling additional witnesses, pointing out the House called 17 witnesses during its impeachment proceedings, a handful of Republicans are considering voting with the Democrats in favor of bringing in new witnesses and documents and continuing the trial.
GOP South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said he does not believe the vote will be tied and that the vote to call witnesses will fail, saying, “I expect not to have a tie vote, by the way. It’s going to be 51-49.”
Braun added, “My understanding is, Tim is right. It will be a moot point.”
Some Democrats are eager for Roberts to intervene and indicated that during the question-and-answer period of the trial.
Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent a question, asking, “At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice’s presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution?”
Several democrats posting on Twitter are hoping for a miracle Roberts tiebreaker.
SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts could serve as the tiebreaker in a 50-50 vote to allow witnesses.
He *should* allow witnesses, if he wants to preside over a fair #ImpeachmentTrial.
— Dena Grayson, MD, PhD (@DrDenaGrayson) January 31, 2020
If Lisa Murkowski votes “yes” to witnesses, Chief Justice John Roberts will likely get the chance to break a tie.
He must not fall to Republican pressure and refuse to put his foot on the scale.#RobertsMustBreakTheTie
Who’s with me?
— Ms. Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) January 31, 2020