In my June 26 Bulletin, I wrote that our law enforcement officers "commit to a life where their own personal safety comes second to everyone around them. They put their lives on the line every single day and run directly into harm's way when the rest of us are trying to get out of it." I also wrote of the "chaos and danger created by lawlessness and mob rule."
Sadly, only seven months later, we once again saw police officers and government institutions being attacked by opportunists dead set on creating chaos. The men and women of the United States Capitol Police, Washington, D.C. Police, the National Guard and several other surrounding police departments put their lives on the line to protect one of the symbols of our democracy. There is no excuse for the violence that took place Wednesday, and we are forever indebted to our law enforcement officers for their protection and service.
On Wednesday morning, before the House and Senate met for the joint session to count electors, I released a statement with several of my colleagues discussing the constitutionality of certain states altering their election processes. The Constitution clearly states that only the state legislatures are given the authority to direct the manner of appointing presidential electors. By circumventing their state legislatures and unilaterally changing voting laws, multiple state governments violated the plain language of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. Changing election laws in an unconstitutional manner mean the slates of electors produced under those modified laws are thus unconstitutional, not "regularly given" or "lawfully certified" as required by the Electoral Count Act of 1887. Election laws are in place to ensure the integrity of our elections and must be followed. Because of that fact, I felt dutybound to object.
Objecting was a difficult decision and certainly one I do not take lightly. Ultimately, the Constitution, U.S. law and historic precedent were the basis of my decision. It was made not to allow Congress to pick the president — that is in no way Congress' duty or right — but to ensure the American people did.
Throughout my discussions with lawyers and upon my decision to object, I — like all Americans — never dreamed that in a few short hours, rioters would be scaling the Capitol walls and ransacking the halls of Congress. After hours of chaos, in which at least four people lost their lives, many members of Congress wanted to delay the count or quickly approve all electors without debate. I certainly don't blame them for those feelings. However, no amount of intimidation or threat of violence can change the words of the Constitution and what I believe is my duty as the representative of Missouri's 3rd District, so I voted in support of the objections on the House floor.
With emotions still high, it is being said that objections are unprecedented or somehow an afront to democracy. That couldn't be further from the truth. During the elector counting of 2017, House Democrats objected to the electors of nine states. They cited everything from voter suppression to Russian interference to corrupted voting machines. Throughout their arguments, I never once accused them of treason, sedition or any type of crimes against our democracy. In 2005, after President Bush won re-election, Democrats objected to the state of Ohio for what they called "serious election irregularities." There are plenty of other examples I could give, but my point is this: It is extremely disingenuous to suggest objecting to electorates is unprecedented. We are all outraged by the riots that occurred Wednesday; we don't need faux outrage from my colleagues for the objections they themselves have raised.
The attack on the Capitol was a tragic moment for America. Every American at every level should strongly condemn those acts and seek the justice that should be carried out. We must also learn from this moment and find a new way of debating matters of national importance. When Joe Biden is sworn in as our president, I will do everything I can to protect our economic and personal freedom from government overreach. And, I will continually push state legislatures and the courts to ensure an election that left doubt in so many American minds never happens again. While some of those conversations will be contentious and tempers may flair, they will be carried out respectfully, without violence, and keeping in mind that we are all Americans.
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., shares his perspective each week on national issues, including ones that affect Missouri. He represents the state's 3rd District, which includes Jefferson City. His local office can be reached at 635-7232.