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Image: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise speaks with the media in the Capitol on Oct. 29, 2019.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise speaks with the media in the Capitol on Oct. 29, 2019.Patrick Semansky / AP

House GOP leader struggles to defend anti-election scheme

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said, "Nobody wants any votes thrown out." He might want to take a closer look at his party's plan.


On Saturday night, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) appeared on Fox News to argue that Democrats don't want the police to arrest "violent rioters," but they do want Americans to be arrested for "visiting your family for Christmas."

Obviously, these are not the words of a sensible adult. They were not, however, the only unfortunate comments peddled by the far-right Louisianan on Fox News over the weekend.

Fox News host Chris Wallace confronted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) on his and other congressional Republicans' support for a Texas lawsuit that would have thrown out the results of the presidential election in four key battleground states. "You were talking about disenfranchising the 10 million Biden voters who supported [President-elect Joe Biden] in those four states," Wallace said on "Fox News Sunday," referring to the Texas lawsuit that was rejected late Friday.

The host specifically asked, "Do you feel comfortable throwing out millions of votes of your fellow Americans?" Scalise replied, "Well, nobody wants any votes thrown out."

The host explained, "But that's what your lawsuit would have done, sir." Unpersuaded, the Louisiana Republican responded, "Well, no."

Let's back up for a minute. Within days of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) filing his anti-election lawsuit, 126 House Republicans had signed on to a legal filing endorsing the litigation. It meant that nearly two-thirds of the entire House GOP conference insisted that millions of American ballots should be ignored, lies should be believed, wild-eyed conspiracy theories should be embraced, and the loser of the election should be handed illegitimate power, democracy be damned.

The first member of the House GOP leadership to formally attach his name to this attack on his own country's electoral system was Steve Scalise.

The idea of Republicans wanting votes "thrown out" probably won't sound good to the American mainstream, but over the last month, that has been the goal of the party's legal efforts. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported a few weeks ago, for example, "The attorney leading President Donald Trump's recount effort in Wisconsin voted illegally according to his own legal argument that in-person absentee ballots should be thrown out."

As for the legal argument Scalise and 125 of his GOP brethren endorsed, they explicitly argued in their filing that U.S. Supreme Court justices should block the electoral college process or allow state legislators to override the will of voters. What's more, the litigation filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) -- the one House Republicans pushed the Supreme Court to accept -- asked justices to declare electoral votes in four states "cannot be counted."

It's a little late for Scalise to downplay the effort.

In the same interview, when Wallace marveled at Scalise's refusal to recognize Joe Biden as the president-elect, the far-right congressman added, "Let's let this legal process play itself out."

First, the legal process has played out. Trump, his lawyers, and their allies have filed an embarrassing number of frivolous lawsuits, which have failed spectacularly.

Second, there's no need to see the "legal process" as some kind of organic thing that exists in nature, to be witnessed at a distance. The "legal process" exists because Republicans keep generating misguided cases -- in some instances, with the support and encouragement of GOP leaders such as Steve Scalise.

It's one thing to let a legal process "play itself out"; it's something else to artificially create an unnecessary legal process and keep it alive without cause.