A ranking congressional judiciary committee Republican said Tuesday he will call for the impeachment of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent, who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice this week.
U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said Tuesday that once Kent has been sentenced he will introduce a resolution to impeach the 59-year-old jurist who is seeking to retire with full pay. Kent is scheduled to be sentenced in May. Prosecutors have asked he serve three years in prison.
“Felons don’t belong on the bench or in Congress,” said Sensenbrenner, a former chairman of the House judiciary committee.
The congressman called it outrageous that Kent is asking to retire under a disability exception so he can keep collecting a federal paycheck for the rest of his life.
“Nobody should be paid by the taxpayers for sitting in jail and not hearing a case,” he said. “And if his honor wishes to avoid the embarrassment and expense of impeachment, he should resign.”
Federal district judges are appointed for life. When they retire at 65 — or earlier, if disabled — they continue to receive the same pay as their retirement benefits. Judges lose these privileges only if they resign or are impeached.
Sensenbrenner said another federal judge, Walter Nixon of Mississippi, was sent to prison for tax evasion. Nixon, who refused to resign, was disbarred and still tried to retake the bench before being impeached.
He worries that Kent could retire on disability, then claim he was cured after a prison term and try to retake the bench, too.
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