The impeachment clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 3, Clause 6: states: “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.”
The Constitution expressly requires the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to preside over a presidential impeachment trial. But Chief Justice John Roberts is nowhere to be seen in the ongoing U.S. Senate “trial” of former President Donald J. Trump.
Instead, Senate President Pro Tempore John Leahy, a partisan Democrat from Vermont who already has declared his support for Trump’s impeachment, is presiding. Leahy is also a juror, which makes the situation even more absurd.
If it is Robert’s job to preside at the impeachment trial then he darn well should be doing it. But he is definitely not there. He’s not sick or otherwise incapacitated. He’s just absent.
The Supreme Court has no comment about Roberts’ absence from Trump’s second “impeachment trial.” There is speculation that Roberts refused to preside because Trump is no longer President. As previously noted, the impeachment clause specifically pertains to “[w]hen the President of the United States is tried.”