Seven House GOPers: Congress Legally Can't Get Involved in the Election

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Posted: Jan 03, 2021 5:25 PM
Seven House GOPers: Congress Legally Can't Get Involved in the Election

Source: AP Photo/Bryan Woolston

Seven members of the House of Representatives on Sunday came forward saying they believe Congress has no role in deciding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

According to the group of legislators, there have been valid concerns raised in a number of battleground states but the states determine what electors cast their votes in the Electoral College, not Congress.

"The people cannot trust a system that refuses to guarantee that only legal votes are cast to select its leaders. The elections held in at least six battleground states raise profound questions, and it is a legal, constitutional, and moral imperative that they be answered," the coalition said in a statement. "But only the states have authority to appoint electors, in accordance with state law. Congress has only a narrow role in the presidential election process. Its job is to count the electors submitted by the states, not to determine which electors the states should have sent."

The group cites the 12th Amendment, saying Congress lacks authority "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. Congress has one job here: to count electoral votes that have in fact been cast by any state, as designated by those authorized to do so under state law."

The states in question – Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Minnesota and Georgia – have Republican-controlled legislatures. The exception is Minnesota, which has a divided government. Democrats control the Minnesota House and Republicans control their state Senate. The coalition said unless legislatures in those states send new electors between now and Wednesday, "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 coalition explained.

The legislators made the argument that upending the results from the 2020 presidential election could be damaging to Republicans long-term, especially as Democrats advocate for abolishing the Electoral College. 

" If we perpetuate the notion that Congress may disregard certified electoral votes—based solely on its own assessment that one or more states mishandled the presidential election—we will be delegitimizing the very system that led Donald Trump to victory in 2016, and that could provide the only path to victory in 2024," the coalition explained.

The coalition said it is up to state legislatures to determine if voter fraud took place in their state. If it did, the state legislature has an obligation to hold an emergency session, send Congress the voter fraud information along with certified electoral votes Trump electors casted.

"Absent such action, there is not a constitutional role for Congress to change the outcome of any state’s vote," the statement explained.

"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," the coalition said. "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.”

The group is made up for Republican Reps. Kelly Armstrong (ND), Ken Buck (CO), Mike Gallagher (WI), Nancy Mace (SC), Thomas Massie (KY), Tom McClintock (CA) and Chip Roy (TX).