The House Impeaches A Supreme Court Justice

1804

In 1804, the Jeffersonian Republicans in the House of Representatives vote to impeach Justice Samuel Chase, a Federalist who has served on the Supreme Court since 1796. He is accused of behaving in an “arbitrary, oppressive, and unjust” manner on the bench. The Senate conducts a trial in 1805, in which Justice Chase defends himself by declaring that he is being prosecuted for his political convictions rather than having committed any “high crimes or misdemeanors,” as the Constitution specifies. Six Republicans join with nine Federalist senators to acquit Chase on all counts. He remains on the Supreme Court until he dies in 1811.