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Samuel Chase
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U.S. Supreme Court Justice
    (April 17, 1741-June 19, 1811)
    Born in Somerset County, Maryland
    Represented Maryland in the Continental Congress (1774-78)
    Signed the Declaration of Independence
    Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (1796-1811)
    He was nicknamed 'Old Bacon Face.'
    He was thrown out of the Forensics Club, a debating society, for 'extremely irregular and indecent' behavior (1762).
    He attempted to corner the flour market using insider information learned as a member of the Continental Congress.
    He went bankrupt speculating in land (1788).
    When Maryland removed property qualifications for voting, he complained that the state would descend into 'mobocracy.'
    He evolved from being a 'firebrand' state's rights advocate to a staunch Federalist.
    He was impeached for allegedly treating defendants and their counsel in an unfair manner based on his political beliefs (March 26, 1804).
    He convinced the Maryland General Assembly to reverse its original position and support the Declaration of Independence.
    His impeachment was a blatant attempt by President Thomas Jefferson to remove a member of the rival Federalist Party from the bench.
    Although the Senate was overwhelmingly composed of members of Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party, it voted to acquit Chase on all charges by a large majority (March 1, 1805).
    Jefferson may have been planning to go after Chief Justice John Marshall if the impeachment of Chase had succeeded.
    The impeachment established an important precedent over whether a judge could be removed from office for having unpopular opinions.
    All future impeachments of federal judges have involved allegations of criminal or unethical misconduct.
    The failed impeachment strengthened the independence of the judiciary branch.

Credit: C. Fishel

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