Sensenbrenner, House Vote to Impeach Judge Kent of Texas
~Sensenbrenner selected to serve as House Manager, 2nd Member in History to serve as House Manager for 3 Impeachment Trials in the Senate~
Jun 19, 2009 -
The U.S. House of Representatives today voted unanimously on all four articles to impeach U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent of the Southern District of Texas. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) who filed the initial impeachment papers for Kent joined the House in voting for impeachment.
After voting to impeach, Sensenbrenner was selected to serve as one of the five House Managers who will try the case in the Senate. The trial of Judge Kent will mark the third time Sensenbrenner has been selected by the House to serve as a House Manager for an impeachment trial in the Senate. Since 1803, only one other Member, Texas Representative Hatton W. Sumners, has served as a House Manager for three separate judicial impeachment hearings. Sensenbrenner previously served as the House Manager for the impeachment of federal judge Walter Nixon and the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton.
According to the Constitution, the U.S. House of Representatives has the sole responsibility of impeachment. The U.S. Senate holds the power to remove someone from office.
“Justice has been served today by the House voting to impeach Judge Kent,” Sensenbrenner said. “I am honored that I will be able to assist in the role of House Manager to ensure Judge Kent is promptly removed from the bench. As a watchdog of government money and a lawyer who values the rule of law, I was compelled to begin this impeachment process because it is absolutely wrong for a judge to receive a lifetime judicial salary and have the privilege of sitting on the bench when he violated the very laws he took an oath to uphold.”
Earlier this month, Kent began serving his 33-month sentence in federal prison for pleading guilty to obstruction of justice. Kent strategically submitted his resignation, effective in June of 2010, so that he may continue receiving his annual salary of $174,000 from taxpayers, until both the House impeaches him and the Senate votes to remove him from office, a process that often takes a long time.
“Judges are not above the law,” Sensenbrenner said. “Our democracy depends on the rule of law and Judge Kent clearly disregarded the law without remorse. We can best restore the trust of the American people in our judicial system by the Senate promptly removing Judge Kent from his position. I hope the Senate acts quickly in doing so.”
Sensenbrenner’s Role in Impeaching Judge Kent
Sensenbrenner was the first Representative to begin looking into the possible impeachment of Kent at the beginning of 2009. In February, Kent pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. This followed an investigation that resulted in a plea agreement where Kent admitted non-consensual sexual conduct with two court employees.
Kent, who was not of retirement age, filed for disability in order to receive his full pension: a lifetime salary equivalent to his current annual pay of $174,000. Upon hearing this, on February 26th, Sensenbrenner sent a letter to Chief Judge Edith Hollan Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, asking her to thoroughly examine any request made by Kent in seeking disability. Sensenbrenner believed the request to be a blatant attempt by Kent to work the system so that he could continue receiving a paycheck from taxpayers for the rest of his life – including his time behind bars. Judge Jones denied Judge Kent’s disability request on May 27th.
Sensenbrenner also publicly stated in February that if Kent did not resign, he would draft a resolution for impeachment after his sentencing. Kent was sentenced in May. Sensenbrenner immediately filed a resolution for impeachment and publicly stated, “I encourage House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr., (D-Mich.) to promptly consider this resolution. Judge Kent has already pled guilty to high crimes and misdemeanors, and time is of the essence to restore the public’s trust in the judiciary.”
Earlier this month, Sensenbrenner served on the Judiciary Committee’s Impeachment Task Force where he heard graphic testimony from the two women Kent sexually assaulted. The Task Force voted for the matter to be heard by the full Judiciary Committee. On June 10th, the full Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to send the articles of impeachment to the House floor for a vote.
Sensenbrenner currently serves as the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. He previously filed impeachment resolutions against former federal judges Alcee Hastings, Walter Nixon and Manuel Real.
To watch Congressman Sensenbrenner's Floor Speech calling for the impeachment of Judge Kent, please click here.