A dozen or so Republican U.S. senators plan to challenge the election results in certain states during a joint session of Congress Wednesday. They seek to reject the electors from disputed swing states.
It’s a bad idea, coming after numerous courts have thrown out claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.
Federal lawmakers must stay out of it. When states have ratified election results and the courts won’t hear it further, that’s enough to convince us. Inserting pressure from Congress is dangerous to democracy, and our hope is that cooler thinking can avert this historic move. It’s not about selecting Joe Biden over President Trump, but about following the U.S. Constitution as the nation maneuvers through the coming transfer of power.
It’s reassuring to see North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong among a group of seven Republicans who say congressional involvement amounts to “stealing power from the people and the states.” Armstrong and the others released the statement over the weekend, noting they are “outraged at the significant abuses in our election system” and that the results of at least six states have raised “profound questions.” They say it is a “legal, constitutional and moral imperative that they be answered.”
But they also urge Congress to steer clear of the fray, citing constitutional reasons. We agree. When the courts will not flip results, the Constitution must provide the path forward.
Below is an shortened version of the statement sent by Armstrong and the others:
“The text of the United States Constitution, and the Twelfth Amendment in particular, is clear. With respect to presidential elections, there is no authority for Congress to make value judgments in the abstract regarding any state’s election laws or the manner in which they have been implemented. Nor does Congress have discretion to disqualify electors based on its own finding that fraud occurred in that state’s election. ...
“As of this moment, not a single state has submitted multiple conflicting slates of electoral votes. In other words, every state has sent either (a) Biden electors, or (b) Trump electors. Of the six states as to which questions have been raised, five have legislatures controlled by Republicans, and they all have the power to send a new slate of electoral votes to Congress if they deem such action appropriate under state law. Unless that happens between now and Jan. 6, Congress will have no authority to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
“To take action otherwise – that is, to unconstitutionally insert Congress into the center of the presidential election process – would amount to stealing power from the people and the states. It would, in effect, replace the electoral college with Congress, and in so doing strengthen the efforts of those on the left who are determined to eliminate it or render it irrelevant.
“... The text of the Constitution is clear. States select electors. Congress does not. Accordingly, our path forward is also clear. We must respect the states’ authority here. Though doing so may frustrate our immediate political objectives, we have sworn an oath to promote the Constitution above our policy goals. We must count the electoral votes submitted by the states.”
UPDATE: After this editorial was written, North Dakota Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, both of whom are Republicans, said they also will not object to the Electoral College results, citing the U.S. Constitution.