Rep. Thomas Massie cultivates a reputation as a strict constructionist of the U.S. Constitution — meaning the Vanceburg Republican sees the power of government as limited to what the literal words of that document and its amendments allow.
Strict constructionists, as one might expect by such wording, are as staunch as they come in their philosophy, believing it leaves no room for interpretation, no wiggle room for politics or circumstance. Either the Constitution permits an action, explicitly, or it does not.
Massie and six of his fellow GOP representatives did not waver from that hard line, even presented with one of the most politically charged issues of a generation: an election that President Donald Trump says is being stolen from him — a position in which he has persuaded at least 140 Republican representatives to back him Wednesday by voting against the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election, reported CNN.
Massie, Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) will not be among them, provided they hold to a joint statement Massie’s office released Monday.
“The text of the United States Constitution, and the Twelfth Amendment in particular, is clear,” the statement read. “With respect to presidential elections, there is no authority for Congress to make value judgments in the abstract regarding any state’s election laws or the manner in which they have been implemented. Nor does Congress have discretion to disqualify electors based on its own (hypothetical) finding that fraud occurred in that state’s election. Congress has one job here: to count electoral votes that have in fact been cast by any state, as designated by those authorized to do so under state law.”
Make no mistake, this is no referendum on Massie and his group’s feelings toward Biden or Trump. The statement opens by expressing “outrage” at what it calls “significant abuses in our election system resulting from the reckless adoption of mail-in ballots and the lack of safeguards maintained to guarantee that only legitimate votes are cast and counted.”
Here the seven representatives side with the president, who has insisted for two months that votes cast for him were thrown out and votes for Biden were artificially manufactured in battleground states.
Trump and his team have yet to produce evidence of that claim credible enough to convince arbiters in a litany of attempts through the judicial system.
Against that background, Massie and his six cohorts resisted the temptation 140 of their colleagues could not — the temptation to place politics over statesmanship, to prioritize a fight for a victory (that judges and secretaries of state around the country have ruled was not earned) over the long-term health of our democratic republic.
“The text of the Constitution is clear,” the statement read. “States select electors. Congress does not. Accordingly, our path forward is also clear. We must respect the states’ authority here. Though doing so may frustrate our immediate political objectives, we have sworn an oath to promote the Constitution above our policy goals.”
We commend our congressman for his adherence to his principles in a time when those are actively being tested unlike any in recent memory.