Members of the U.S. House of Representatives took the extraordinary and dangerous step this week of supporting a lawsuit by Texas against other fellow states. Sadly, my U.S. representative, Rob Wittman (1st District of Virginia), joined some other Republican members of the House of Representatives by adding his name to this filing, an alarming document. (Legal (and other) nerds take note: the docket sheet – a collection to the links of all the filings in the Texas v. Pennsylvania action can be found here.)
Pennsylvania filed a clear and cogent response to Texas, based on both fact and law, as did Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the four states that Texas targeted.
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Texas’ suit in a short, 1-page Order. Effectively, the vote was unanimous; seven justices apparently agreed that Texas didn’t have the right to try to interfere with other states, and therefore the Texas motion to file its lawsuit shouldn’t be granted; the other two justices (Alito, with Thomas agreeing) said that the suit should be allowed to be filed, but nothing further granted.
It appears that the Supreme Court’s docket sheet reflects the order in which documents were filed in the Texas suit. Thus, the first version of the House of Representatives’ filing was filed after the oppositions were filed by Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan, although on the same day. The corrected House of Representatives’ filing was filed a day later. All documents were, and are, publicly available.
Rep. Wittman listed himself as a participant in both House of Representatives members’ filings. Did he read any of the documents filed? Did he attempt to engage in the critical thinking as expected of a member of the House of Representatives? Did he bother to read the responses of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan? Did he ask any questions before signing off? We’ll likely never know.
A friend reached out to Rep. Wittman’s office to express her concern. Rep. Wittman responded with a form response, linked here (I have removed personal identifying information, but in all other respects is an identical copy of the Wittman’s response). Let’s look at Rep. Wittman’s response (indented), with my translation (What Rep. Wittman is really saying) and/or my commentary on what he said (both italicized):
This week, I joined a majority of my Republican colleagues and Leadership in the House of Representatives in sending an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in reference to the Texas v. Pennsylvania, et al. case relating to the November general election.
What Rep. Wittman is really saying: “I don’t have to think about it. I was told to do it.”
Article II, Sec. 1, cl. 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that Presidential Electors must be appointed according to rules established by each state’s legislature.
Commentary: Here’s what Article II, Sec. 1, cl. 2 states: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . . “
But in the months before the 2020 election, those rules were deliberately changed in the Defendant states, not by their legislatures, but by governors, secretaries of state, election officials, judges and/or private parties.
Commentary: Untrue. The Constitution states that the Electors shall be appointed as the legislature directs. Not a single court – state or federal – in the four targeted states held that there was any violation of state law or Article II.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton along with 18 other states have filed suit against the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Commentary: We know Ken Paxton is under investigation by the FBI for bribery. I’m sure Paxton had no ulterior motives to support pardon-happy Trump.
The suit argues that those states made unconstitutional changes to their laws before the 2020 election. The lawsuit highlights changes those states made to their voting procedures, removing protections against fraud without the approval of the states’ legislatures.
What Rep. Wittman is really saying: I haven’t read a single opinion by any of the courts who have considered these issues. I just believe Giuliani and Trump, and I can be led like a sheep. Who cares about facts? I don’t have to look into them independently.
Our amicus brief does one single thing: It respectfully requests that the Supreme Court uphold the clear authority of the state legislatures to establish the manner by which electors are appointed, and determine the constitutional validity of any ballots cast under rules and procedures established by actors or public bodies other than state legislatures.
Commentary: Umm, no. The amicus brief – all 44 pages of it – challenges the rights of the four targeted states to determine how their elections are run. Did you read it, Rep. Wittman???
By joining this amicus brief, the signing Members of Congress are not plaintiff parties to the pending case, but merely AMICI (“friends of the Court”), which means we are not involved in the arguments made by the plaintiffs. An amicus brief, is one provided by a person with strong interest in or views on the subject matter of an action–but not a party to the action–and may petition the court for permission to file a brief. (Emphasis in original.)
Commentary: Rep. Wittman grossly misleads the reader. The brief – in its initial opening paragraph – states the signatories “hereby move the Court for leave to file a brief amicus curiae in support of Plaintiff Texas’ Motion for Leave to File a Bill of Complaint and Motion for Preliminary Injunction.” (Emphasis added). The brief relies completely on the Texas filing, and cites to its demonstrated falsehoods. Rep. Wittman’s paragraph suggests neutrality – a blatant misrepresentation of what he signed. It is irrelevant that those who file amicus briefs aren’t parties. They are unequivocal and committed cheerleaders for their side. Note: Not sure why “amici” is capitalized . . . perhaps an homage to Trump.
My effort is not to be part of the plaintiff’s efforts but to make sure the Court focuses on broader constitutional questions. As such, our role and our argument are extremely focused and limited in their scope (i.e., to the meaning and importance of U.S. Constitution Art. II, Sec. 2, cl. 1, the “Electors Clause”).
What Rep. Wittman is really saying: Please don’t read the brief – just trust what I say, even if it’s not true.
Commentary: Rep. Wittmann is 100% a part of plaintiff Texas’s efforts.
We do not suggest in our brief what that remedy or ultimate outcome should be, which means we are not asking for the results of the election to be set aside, but merely urge the Court to adjudicate and answer this critically important constitutional question.
Commentary: Sorry, Rep. Wittman, you’re again not being truthful. As noted above, you have supported the Texas brief without qualification. The Texas brief outlines the relief it seeks – to throw out millions of votes, because they didn’t favor Trump. Here’s exactly what Texas requested, and Rep. Wittman supports:
Texas brief, at pages 39-40.
I want to be clear that there are a number of folks who have contacted our office whose confidence in the election has been shaken. It is critical for our Republic to restore the confidence of all Americans that the rule of law will be upheld and that all elections will be secure.
Commentary: Confidence – or lack thereof – in the elections has one source: Trump. He doesn’t want to lose. His minions are merely following his psychopathic, narcissistic lead at his direction. Perhaps Rep. Wittman’s constituents would have been better served by his unequivocal support of the electoral process and its result, even if he were unhappy about its result. I acknowledge Rep. Wittman won, fair and square. I may not like it, but I accept it. THIS is what democracy looks like!
As such, I believe the Supreme Court must review and adjudicate these important issues. Article III of the Constitution was set up to work this way–for the courts to answer any questions concerning our systems of Elections.
What Rep. Wittman is really saying: I wanted the Supreme Court to overturn votes of millions, so I can get the result I was told I wanted.
Commentary: I realize that Rep. Wittman isn’t a lawyer, but courts are not set up to “answer any questions.” It’s a foundation of our judicial system that there has to be an actual case or controversy – courts don’t “answer any questions.”
As I have spoken with many constituents, I hear loudly of their passion and concern for our county [sic]. I deeply value you sharing your views and opinions with me on the important issues facing our Nation. I pledge to you that I will continue to work hard on your behalf and to fight for the principles that will continue to make this Nation great. I believe that there is more that binds us together than pushes us apart and it is in this spirit that I represent you.
What Rep. Wittman is really saying: I’ll fight for what my Dear Leader Trump wants me to fight for. I’m in a safe, gerry-mandered seat, but need to give lip service to those who I don’t agree with. I don’t want the wrath of the people who won’t take the time or interest to dig into the truth.
I do find it interesting that Rep. Wittman didn’t announce his support of this ill-fated Supreme Court filing. It’s not listed on his press release page, and he never mentions it on his Facebook page.
But Rep. Wittman’s decision to sign onto this profoundly anti-democratic and factually-unsupported document may have been the most important, and troubling, decision of his career.
Shame on you, Rep. Wittman. I believe in my soul you’re better than this.