And they are laying the predicate for a contentious new phase of American democracy, if it can continue to be called that, in which election results — after appropriate recounts and audits and certifications — are no longer accepted. Instead, they merely open the door for a second phase of legal and political guerrilla warfare in which no tactic, no lie, no baseless claim is off-limits. Democracy cannot function this way.
It had looked as though we dodged a bullet with Trump’s defeat. Turns out there were more in the gun.
One interminable month ago, in response to Trump’s unsupported claims of electoral victory — then shocking, now routine — I wrote that history would judge the response of Republican leaders. Only those willing to ignore their gutless record over the past four years would have expected many profiles in courage. Still, what’s happened is even worse: not servile silence but vigorous incitement.
Which brings us to Texas’s risible bid to have the Supreme Court throw out the election results — which the justices predictably rejected Friday evening. The dry legal language of the court’s order barely concealed its exasperation with Texas’s shenanigans. “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections,” the court noted tartly.
But this is not a matter of all’s well that ends well. What was alarming about the Texas effort — what Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro aptly described as “this seditious abuse of the judicial process” — was that it gained the support of so many others. Seventeen of 26 Republican state attorneys general. Nearly two-thirds of House Republicans, some 106 on Thursday, with 20 more jumping on the bandwagon Friday, including the minority leader, Kevin McCarthy (Calif.).
Every one of these individuals has forfeited any claim to believe in anything but fealty to Trump and their own political self-interest. Because nothing could be less conservative, less consistent with supposed Republican principles, than urging a court to overturn a democratic election. Spare me the pieties about activist judges.
Nothing could be less consistent with conservative principles than contending that one state should be able to instruct another about how to conduct its elections — or that federal judges should referee such claims. So much for federalism.
So history will record, but let me make it easier for the historians and, perhaps, impose a smidgen of accountability in the present.
First, the attorneys general, the chief law enforcement officers of their states, who joined Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in this legal monstrosity: Eric Schmitt, Missouri (he goes first because Missouri filed the brief); Steve Marshall, Alabama; Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas; Ashley Moody, Florida; Curtis Hill, Indiana; Derek Schmidt, Kansas; Jeff Landry, Louisiana; Lynn Fitch, Mississippi; Tim Fox, Montana; Doug Peterson, Nebraska; Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota; Mike Hunter, Oklahoma; Alan Wilson, South Carolina; Jason Ravnsborg, South Dakota; Herbert H. Slatery III, Tennessee; Sean Reyes, Utah; Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia.
Second, the House members, including McCarthy, Whip Steve Scalise (La.); Jim Jordan (Ohio), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee; Kevin Brady (Tex.), ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee; Rep. Gary Palmer (Ala.), head of the Republican Policy Committee; and Mike Johnson (La.), who organized this constitutional abomination.
The rest, listed in order of their home state: Alabama (Robert B. Aderholt, Mo Brooks, Bradley Byrne, Mike D. Rogers), Arizona (Andy Biggs, Debbie Lesko), Arkansas (Eric A. “Rick” Crawford, Bruce Westerman), California (Ken Calvert, Doug LaMalfa, Tom McClintock), Colorado (Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn), Florida (Gus M. Bilirakis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Neal Dunn, Matt Gaetz, Bill Posey, John Rutherford, Ross Spano, Greg Steube, Michael Waltz, Daniel Webster, Ted Yoho), Georgia (Rick Allen, Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, Douglas A. Collins, Drew Ferguson, Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk, Austin Scott), Idaho (Russ Fulcher, Mike Simpson), Illinois (Mike Bost, Darin LaHood), Indiana (Jim Baird, Jim Banks, Trey Hollingsworth, Greg Pence, Jackie Walorski), Iowa (Steve King), Kansas (Ron Estes, Roger Marshall), Louisiana (Ralph Abraham, Clay Higgins).
Maryland (Andy Harris), Michigan (Jack Bergman, Bill Huizenga, John Moolenaar, Tim Walberg), Minnesota (Tom Emmer, Jim Hagedorn, Pete Stauber), Mississippi (Michael Guest, Trent Kelly, Steven M. Palazzo), Missouri (Sam Graves, Billy Long, Vicky Hartzler, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Jason T. Smith, Ann Wagner), Montana (Greg Gianforte), Nebraska (Jeff Fortenberry, Adrian Smith), New Jersey (Jeff Van Drew), New York (Elise Stefanik, Lee Zeldin), North Carolina (Dan Bishop, Ted Budd, Virginia Foxx, Richard Hudson, Greg Murphy, David Rouzer, Mark Walker), Ohio (Bob Gibbs, Bill Johnson, Robert E. Latta, Brad Wenstrup), Oklahoma (Kevin Hern, Markwayne Mullin).
Pennsylvania (John Joyce, Frederick B. Keller, Mike Kelly, Dan Meuser, Scott Perry, Guy Reschenthaler, Glenn Thompson), South Carolina (Jeff Duncan, Ralph Norman, Tom Rice, William Timmons, Joe Wilson), Tennessee (Tim Burchett, Scott DesJarlais, Charles J. “Chuck” Fleischmann, Mark Green, David Kustoff, John Rose), Texas (Jodey Arrington, Brian Babin, Michael C. Burgess, Michael Cloud, K. Michael Conaway, Dan Crenshaw, Bill Flores, Louie Gohmert, Lance Gooden, Kenny Marchant, Randy Weber, Roger Williams, Ron Wright), Virginia (Ben Cline, H. Morgan Griffith, Rob Wittman), Washington (Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dan Newhouse), West Virginia (Carol Miller, Alex Mooney), Wisconsin (Tom Tiffany).
They may not be capable of shame, but you should know who they are.