Constitutional scholar Pamela Karlan of Stanford University passionately testifies before the House Judiciary Committee

Professor Pamela Karlan Joins the List of the Incredible Women of the Impeachment Inquiry

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Today marked the House Judiciary Committee’s first public impeachment hearing. Unlike the Intelligence Committee, which called a number of fact witnesses to give testimony regarding specific instances of possible impeachable offenses committed by Donald Trump, the Judiciary Committee is starting off with a group of law professors, who they’ve gathered to discuss the historical and constitutional basis for impeachment.

If that sounded like it was going to be a snooze-fest, boy, were we wrong–in large part because of the participation of Professor Pamela Karlan. This impeachment inquiry has called a number of incredible women to testify: women like Fiona Hill, Marie Yovanovitch, Laura Cooper, and Jennifer Williams–and now Karlan.

As the New York Times writes, Karlan is a professor at Stanford Law School and the director of the school’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. She worked in the Justice Department’s civil rights division under Barack Obama. She’s worked on the California Fair Political Practices Commission, for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and she’s argued nine cases in front of the Supreme Court.

Karlan has written the literal textbook on Constitutional law. (A few of them, actually.) She is the paragon of expertise. And she was not messing around today.

Arguably the most impressive moment in Karlan’s time in front of Congress today came early, when she fired back directly at the Republican ranking member, Doug Collins.

During his opening statement, Collins had taken a swipe at lawyers and law school (despite the fact that he himself graduated from law school), claiming that these witnesses must have been far too busy to be prepared for today’s hearing. “You couldn’t have possibly actually digested the Adam Schiff report from yesterday or the Republican response in any real way,” he said.

Here’s how Collins responded:

She even noted that she had to buy a pre-cooked turkey for Thanksgiving because she was so determined to be fully prepared for today.

That may have been the biggest mic drop of the day, but it wasn’t the only moment Karlan shined. She has an incredible talent for being able to explain complex Constitutional issues in easy metaphors, and she did so multiple times today.

That ability to explain things simply is essential here because her job, along with the other three witnesses called today (two of whom were also stellar and one of whom was Jonathan Turley), is to lay the foundation for Congress moving forward, to give Trump’s actions a Constitutional framework–no matter what Doug Collins tries to say.

And Karlan and her colleagues definitely did that today.

(image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.