There is no actual competition to see which Republican-led state legislature can govern in the least responsible way possible, but if such a contest existed, Missouri would have to be considered a credible contender.
The indictment against GOP lawmakers’ recent efforts in the Show Me State isn’t short: voting restrictions, nullification efforts, anti-union schemes, anti-evolution measures, an anti-health care push, and on and on.
To be sure, many of these efforts have fallen short, thanks in part to Missouri’s Democratic governor, Jay Nixon. But given Republican extremism, perhaps it shouldn’t come as too big a surprise that Missouri’s GOP lawmakers have responded to the governor’s objections to their agenda by raising the specter of impeachment.
A Missouri state House committee will hold hearings Wednesday into three proposed articles of impeachment against Gov. Jay Nixon (D), whom some Republicans say has committed offenses worthy of being removed from office. […]Even if the House succeeds in impeaching Nixon, it would require five of seven judges appointed by the state Senate to convict Nixon and remove him from office.
And by all accounts, that’s not going to happen.
But my point in highlighting these developments isn’t to suggest that Nixon’s tenure is actually in peril, because it almost certainly is not. Rather, the point is that even pursuing the possibility of impeaching a sitting governor without good reasons reinforces a larger truth: these Missouri Republican lawmakers appear to have gone completely over the edge.
Not that it matters in practical terms, but what exactly is the rationale behind the GOP’s impeachment push? Reid Wilson’s report highlights the case against Nixon:
One legislator has lodged a complaint over Nixon’s executive order last year that directed state tax officials to accept joint tax returns from same-sex couples who were legally married in other states. […]Another legislator said Nixon hadn’t moved fast enough to call special elections in three state House districts and a Senate district left vacant by resignations. […]And a third legislator says Nixon deserves the boot for insufficiently punishing officials at the state Department of Public Safety for releasing a database of Missourians with permits to carry concealed weapons.
I suppose it’s a subjective question, but none of these alleged misdeeds seems to rise to the “high crimes” standard usually associated with impeaching a chief executive.
For his part, Nixon’s office characterized the impeachment chatter as a “publicity stunt,” which sounds about right. But taking this one step further, publicity stunts are generally intended to, as the name suggests, generate publicity. In this case, however, it’s not entirely clear what it is House Republicans want to publicize.
Their radicalism? Their willingness to waste time on a partisan charade instead of governing?