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Rep. Rob Wittman: Why I signed on to the Texas amicus brief
Washington, December 26, 2020
I’ve read many letters in The Free Lance-Star that asked why I signed onto the Texas amicus brief, and many who have misconstrued what the amicus brief says in the first place, so I’d like to clear that up.
The amicus brief states: “The offices of President and Vice President were created by the U.S. Constitution, and when a state legislature exercises its power to determine the manner in which electors are chosen, that power is governed solely by the federal Constitution. No state constitution, state law, state governor, state election official, or court can alter or constrain that grant of power. More than a century ago, this Court applied the plain meaning of the Electors Clause and recognized the exclusive authority of the state legislatures to act for the people with respect to selection of electors. The Court explained: The appointment of these electors is thus placed absolutely and wholly with the legislatures of the several States. This power is conferred upon the legislatures of the States by the Constitution of the United States, and cannot be taken from them or modified by their State constitutions.”
Simply put: Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that presidential electors must be appointed according to rules established by each state’s legislature. Yet in the months before the 2020 election, the constitutional authority of state legislatures was simply usurped by various governors, state courts, state election officials, and others when state election laws were deliberately changed in certain states without the approval of the states’ legislatures. This raised a constitutional question, which is why I signed on to the amicus brief in Texas v. Pennsylvania, et al.
The amici [“friends of the court”] respectfully asserted that it is the solemn duty of the U.S. Supreme Court to provide an objective review to determine for the people if indeed the Constitution had been followed and the rule of law maintained. The amicus brief was intended to focus on a broader constitutional question by asking the Supreme Court to uphold the clear constitutional authority of the state legislatures to establish the manner by which electors are appointed.
In the end, the State of Texas raised an important constitutional question. It asked the Supreme Court to settle it, but the court decided not to answer that question. I respect the court’s decision. That is what makes this nation great: following due process, letting our system work, and ensuring that the voices of all Americans are heard.
To be clear: I don’t support anything except the constitutionally grounded methods to question the system. I don’t support anything other than an orderly transition of power.
That said, we cannot be afraid of asking the tough questions.
It has always been crucial to me to ensure that every person I represent in Virginia’s 1st District has their voice heard in Washington. Over the past several years, many Americans have questioned the transparency and accuracy of our electoral system.
In 2005, congressional Democrats challenged the electoral votes of Ohio during the 2004 presidential election. In 2016, many believed bad actors from outside of the United States worked to undermine our election processes. And following the 2020 election, I heard from many constituents whose confidence in the election has been shaken because of perceived examples of irregularities and potential fraud in the voting process.
Our constitutional republic has endured for nearly two and a half centuries based on the principle that a government’s validity stems from the consent of the governed. That consent is grounded in people’s confidence in the legitimacy of our institutions of government. Among our most fundamental institutions is the system of free and fair elections that we rely upon, and any erosion in that foundation jeopardizes the stability of our republic.
It is critical for our republic to restore the confidence of all Americans in our electoral processes and that we ensure all elections are secure.
As the Supreme Court has long noted, “No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined” (Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1, 17 (1964)).
As a member of Congress, I take the oath of office to “... solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”
I will continue to defend the Constitution and faithfully discharge the duties as your representative in Washington.
As I have spoken with many constituents, I hear clearly their passion and concern for our country. As I move forward in serving you in Congress, I will seek the opportunity to come together and pass meaningful policies that matter most to the 1st District of Virginia. I will continue to fight to invest in a strong national defense, ensure we increase access to broadband coverage in our rural areas, and improve our transportation infrastructure and education systems. We are truly blessed to live in the greatest country on Earth, one that relies on our institutions, on our fellow citizens, and on the rule of law to see us through.
Over the past four years, our nation has undergone remarkable change—landmark fiscal legislation, a record-breaking economy, criminal justice reform, and the hope of a brighter future for all Americans. Many of President Trump’s initiatives have impacted our nation for the better.
When our nation faced adversity and division, our constituents sought out community. When national political differences rose to the fore of the conversation, stories of kindness and the Virginian spirit shone through the local headlines. While we have faced one of the most unprecedented chapters of our nation’s history, we have endured. And we will continue to endure, together.