Jimmy’s Colorado Politics Column | Kudos to Buck — presidency to Biden

Written by on January 5, 2021

Let’s be real: The 2020 presidential election is over.  Objections or not, Congress will tally the Electoral College votes and Joe Biden will be declared president.  As an ardent supporter of President Trump’s reelection bid, it pains me to say it — but it’s true.

Even so, we should look critically at the push by some congressional Republicans for Congress to toss out electoral votes of several states and thus give Trump the presidency.  On Sunday, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck — who also happens to be chairman of the Colorado GOP — led six colleagues in publishing a letter opposing this effort. Colorado Republicans should give him a fair reading.

Buck begins by condemning “significant abuses in our election system resulting from the reckless adoption of mail-in ballots and the lack of safeguards maintained to guarantee that only legitimate votes are cast and counted…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.” 

This is a legitimate concern that must not be dismissed, one I have spoken and written about numerous times since April.  The way many states expanded vote-by-mail last year was egregious.  Buck understands how Colorado gets it right, so he’s capable of making apt comparisons to other states that didn’t.  Congress should indeed take a good look at irregularities and faulty systems — something worthy of a permanent, biannual commission.

This is critical to acknowledge, but it doesn’t mean Congress can constitutionally overturn the election in six identified states.  Buck and Co. make this point well, noting that “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.”

Exactly.  As the letter notes, the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution “is clear.”  It states, “The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President…which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.” 

A plain, originalist reading of the text reveals that, after states certify their slates of electors, they meet, cast and certify their votes, and the vice president counts the votes in front of the Senate and House of Representatives.  While congressional Democrats have objected to electors in the past, the Constitution does not actually authorize this.  It is, as Buck’s letter states, the role of the states to make such decisions.

Not a single state legislature has sent a different slate of electors.  The letter makes a clarion call: “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.”

Buck also offers a backdoor warning to those of us who oppose the national popular vote: “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 Electoral College system].”  One cannot credibly dispute NPV and empower Congress to do its own thing.

At the same time, many on the left are crying that the effort to toss out electors is a “coup.”  Nonsense.  Where were these people when Democrats did this very thing before?  Also, I thought they opposed the Electoral College because it is (intentionally) “undemocratic?”  Moreover, as my friend Keith Nobles rightly put it, “Those calling them an attack on democracy are off in fantasyland. They will have no effect on the outcome.” 

Buck deserves major kudos for his principled position given the massive political pressure among his party’s base.  It takes me back to 2009 when Buck, then a newly minted primary candidate for U.S. Senate, joined me in my Regis University radio studio.  We debated an obscure constitutional topic which revealed his genuine passion for the Constitution.

The bottom line is, we must take things as they are, not as we want them to be.  And we must always stand for the Constitution, even when it isn’t politically beneficial or expedient.

On Wednesday, Congress will debate objections to electors.  That effort will fail, and Joe Biden will be president.  Those are the facts — and how it will end.

Click here to read the rest of Jimmy’s January 5 column at Colorado Politics, a sister publication of The Washington Examiner.

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