The claim: The Supreme Court signed a verdict to impeach House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
A Facebook video post claims the Supreme Court has taken steps to impeach House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“Supreme Court FINALLY signs VERDICT to IMPEACH Speaker Pelosi as Hunter’s Laptop IMPLICATES her,” reads the caption of the July 20 video.
The 10-minute video has been viewed more than 82,000 times and drawn thousands of reactions and hundreds of comments. The video, though, is only a compilation of clips showing several Republican lawmakers – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley – criticizing Pelosi. It has nothing to do with impeachment.
This claim is wrong at every turn, experts say. Pelosi was not impeached. Individual members of Congress cannot be impeached. And impeachments that do happen are done by Congress, not the Supreme Court.
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USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment.
Congress, not the Supreme Court, has impeachment power
The post claims the Supreme Court signed a verdict to impeach Pelosi, but that isn’t how the impeachment process works.
“It’s comically wrong,” Frank Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri, told USA TODAY.
The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the “sole power to impeach an official,” according to the House of Representatives website, while the Senate serves as the only court for impeachment trials.
The process begins in one of two ways: Individual members of the House can introduce impeachment resolutions like ordinary bills, or the House can start proceedings by passing a resolution authorizing an inquiry.
If the impeachment articles are adopted by a simple majority vote, the House appoints members to manage the Senate trial on its behalf and act as prosecutors during those proceedings, the House website says.
After the House sends articles of impeachment to the Senate, the Senate acts as a court to “consider evidence, hear witnesses and vote to acquit or convict the impeached official,” according to the Senate website.
A two-thirds vote by the Senate is required for a conviction. The penalty for any impeached official convicted by the Senate is removal from office, the Senate website says.
There is nothing on the Supreme Court’s website that resembles anything like an impeachment proceeding against Pelosi.
There’s another problem with this claim as well: Members of the House and Senate can’t be impeached at all, Bowman said. Instead, both legislative bodies have the ability to expel their own members.
“The House can expel a member of the House, and the Senate can expel a member of the Senate,” Bowman said. “In neither case does impeachment apply.”
The lone exception occurred in 1797, in a first-of-its-kind undertaking that ended with the Senate deciding its members weren’t eligible for impeachment by the House.
William Blount, a senator from Tennessee, was impeached by the House, but was expelled by the Senate in July 1797 before his impeachment trial began in December 1798. His trial “quickly focused on the Senate’s right to try an expelled senator,” according to the Senate’s website. The Senate ultimately defeated a resolution that asserted Blount was an impeachable officer.
No member of the House has ever been impeached, according to the House website.
Check Your Fact previously debunked the video.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that the Supreme Court signed a verdict to impeach Pelosi. The Constitution gives the House the power to impeach federal officials and the Senate the power to acquit or convict impeached officials. The Members of the House and Senate can’t be impeached. No action of any kind was taken to impeach or remove Pelosi.
Our fact-check sources:
- Frank Bowman, July 25, Phone interview with USA TODAY
- Government Publishing Office, July 29, 2021, Congressional Record, Volume 167, Issue 133 (Thursday, July 29, 2021)
- Government Publishing Office, July 27, 2021, Congressional Record, Volume 167, Issue 131 (Tuesday, July 27, 2021)
- Congress.gov, accessed July 25, Representative Nancy Pelosi
- U.S. House of Representatives, accessed July 25, Impeachment
- Supreme Court, accessed July 25, Search
- U.S. Senate, accessed July 25, Expulsion Case of William Blount of Tennessee (1797)
- Library of Congress, accessed July 25, William Blount
- U.S. Senate, accessed July 26, About Impeachment
- U.S. House of Representatives, accessed July 26, List of Individuals Impeached by the House of Representatives
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