As most Rimersburg Rules readers know, Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore has been accused of sexual misconduct some 38 years ago, accusations that Moore has vigorously and consistently denied.
Rules has been somewhat ambivalent about the election, writing in our last column, “There are reasons to believe and disbelieve both the accusers and the accused. Absent a confession, we will never know the truth of the matter.”
We’ve changed our mind after Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell threatened Moore, and Alabama voters, with an ethics investigation and expulsion of Moore should Alabama voters defy the orders of their betters and elect Moore.
Rules concedes it’s possible Roy Moore did at least some of the things he’s accused of, though we think it more likely he did not. If guilty, we also concede it would be painful for some of the women accusers and unjust if he were elected. But there’s no way to know who’s telling the truth and the stakes have become higher than justice for four or five women, or for Roy Moore.
Politico reports: “McConnell initially outlined his thinking at his weekly leadership meeting earlier this week. The Kentucky Republican said if Moore is elected [meaning legally and Constitutionally elected by the voters] ... One option [to thwart the will of the people and subvert the Constitution] that McConnell floated during the meeting was for a Democrat, such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, to initiate the process by filing the complaint, according to the sources.”
Talk about collusion — the Democrat publication Wapo gives the Republican leadership accusations/ammunition against Moore, who they opposed in the primary, the Republican leadership tells the Democrat leadership how to use the accusations/ammunition against Moore and impliedly promises to support them to undo the results of a legal, Constitutional election.
And collusion aside, McConnell’s scheme is unconstitutional.
Article I, Section 5 of the United States Constitution provides that, “Each House [of Congress] may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.”
To punish its members. Moore isn’t a member and wasn’t 38 years ago. It is longstanding precedent that the ethics committee and the Congress have no jurisdiction to punish conduct that occurred before a member was elected. In 1893 a few senators tried to expel Senator William N. Roach of North Dakota based on a 13-year-old embezzlement allegation. Sound familiar? The Senate refused because it lacked jurisdiction over a member’s conduct before coming to the Senate. There were 17 members of Congress expelled during the Civil War, but it was because they supported the Confederacy after secession while in office. Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon resigned while facing expulsion for sexual harassment while in office.
Perhaps the clearest illustration of Congress’s power under Article I, Section 5 is Alcee Hastings. Hastings, a Democrat, was a federal District Court Judge charged with accepting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence and a return of seized assets in a racketeering case. Hastings was acquitted, but in 1988 the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives impeached him from his judgeship and the Senate convicted him.
Three years later Mr. Hastings was elected to the House of Representatives where he still sits. Why wasn’t he investigated and expelled from Congress? Because Congress, House and Senate, doesn’t have jurisdiction over acts that occurred before a member’s election.
Article I, Section 5 was not intended to, nor does it give the House or Senate veto power over the choice of the electorate. It’s Rules opinion that the Wapo, Democrat and Republican Cartel attack on Moore is an attempt to thwart the will of the voters and a power grab that threatens our Constitutional system of government. It is the duty of Alabama voters to elect Moore and call the Cartel’s bluff.
Send a message, Alabama.
[This is a column of opinion and satire. The author knows of no undisclosed facts. To comment or learn more, contact Lewis, at josephmaxlewis.com and click on Rimersburg Rules. Joseph M. Lewis the author of “Separation of Church and State” and “The Diaries of Pontius Pilate.”]