Senate Moves Closer to Impeachment of Louisiana Judge

Posted March 17, 2010 at 4:56pm

The Senate moved Wednesday to begin the process of impeaching District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr., who serves in the Eastern District of Louisiana and is facing corruption and misconduct charges.

Senators received the articles of impeachment from the House, which voted unanimously last week to impeach Porteous. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the creation of a bipartisan committee charged with collecting evidence for the Senate’s trial.

Members on the panel are Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) and Ted Kaufman (Del.) and Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Jim DeMint (S.C.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), James Risch (Idaho) and Roger Wicker (Miss.).

The committee is required to create a report of “neutral summary of the evidence” for Senators to review. The Senate will vote to either convict or acquit Porteous; a vote of impeachment requires a two-thirds vote.

Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) came out in support of the impeachment process Wednesday.

“Judge Porteous has already admitted to making mistakes during his tenure as a state and federal judge,” Landrieu said in a statement. “Now the Senate must move forward to determine if those mistakes merit impeachment. ”

Only 15 judges have been impeached by Congress, including Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), who was convicted by the Senate and removed from the federal bench in 1989.

“In the Senate, we have a Constitutional duty to hold a trial of impeachment when necessary and we take that responsibility seriously,” Reid said in a statement. “Our bipartisan committee will carry out that duty consistent with our past practices and I am confident that they will lead this process fairly, conscientiously and with all due speed.”