13 Annals of Cong. (1803-04) (HeinOnline)
14 Annals of Cong. (1804-05) (HeinOnline)
Samuel Chase, a staunch Federalist, saw no reason to tone down his partisan rhetoric when he began serving on the Supreme Court in 1796. This became a problem for him when, in 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the President and his party, the Democratic Republicans, gained control of Congress. At Jefferson's urging, Representative James Randolph of Virginia initiated impeachment proceedings against chase, declaring that he would wipe the floor with the abrasive justice. The House voted on March 12, 1804 to impeach Chase, accusing him of refusing to dismiss biased jurors and excluding or limiting defense witnesses in a pair of politically-sensitive cases in 1800 (at the time, Supreme Court justices rode the circuits and presided over trials when the Court was not in session; in addition, the Sedition Act restricted speech critical of the federal government under Federalist John Adams and resulted in the prosecution and conviction of many Jeffersonian newspaper owners who dissented from the government). There were eight articles of impeachment approved by the House on the 3d and 4th of November, 1804:
The House selected impeachment managers to make its case to the Senate and referred the articles of impeachment to the Senate. On the 30th of November, 1804, the Senate appointed a committee to begin preparations for trial, and began the trial on January 4, 1805. When the trial began, the Senate consisted of 25 Jeffersonian Democratic Republicans and nine Federalists. Chase declared that he was being tried for his political convictions rather than any real high crime or misdemeanor and requested a month's postponement to prepare a defense. The postponement was granted, and trial resumed on February 4.
Chase's defense team convinced several of the Jeffersonians that the impeachment was merely political payback, and did not warrant his removal from office. At least six Jeffersonians joined the Federalists in voting against conviction on each article, meaning that while a majority voted for conviction on three of the eight counts, the vote fell short of the required two-thirds on every article. Chase was acquitted on March 1, 1805 and returned to the bench, where he served until his death in 1811.
For further reading, see:
14 Annals of Cong., 81-676: Trial of Samuel Chase, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Impeached by the House of Representatives for High Crimes and Misdemeanors, before the Senate of the United States (1804-05)
13 Annals of Cong. (1803-04) (use index to locate proceedings and debates on Chase)
14 Annals of Cong. (1804-05) (use index to locate proceedings and debates on Chase)
*Fans of Hamilton will appreciate that Callender's threat to print an expose of Alexander Hamilton's affair with Maria Reynolds and false accusations of financial speculations led to Hamilton's publication of the Reynolds Pamphlet in 1797 to get ahead of the scandal.