"She also was unapologetic about her impeachment stance, framing it as a vote of conscience and privately telling colleagues she wanted to be on the right side of history, political consequences be damned."https://t.co/Xp0CSD9Faj— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) January 22, 2021
Friday, January 22, 2021
Expressing A Political Opinion? Or Supporting Insurrection?
Compare this to the impeachment of Donald Trump, now a private citizen. Would the Senate be punishing Trump for legally expressing an opinion protected by the First Amendment, as political opinions also are (same creature, IOW)? Well, some GOP Senators want to argue so, in order to defeat the impeachment before it comes to an up or down vote on Trump's fate as a politician. But if they lose, should Trump win regardless? Why not? What's the difference between Trump's opinion, and Cruz/Hawley's?
The difference is, this is not a legal effort, it's a political one. The Senate can ban Trump from ever running for office again and there's not a damned thing Trump or Alan Dershowitz can do about it (this is pretty much his argument, by the way, as he declined to represent Trump but insisted he would go on protecting First Amendment rights for all comers. Brave, brave Sir Robin.). The Senate can also show Cruz and Hawley the door in a fit of pique over what happened on January 6th, with the same recourse by either man. Personally, I wouldn't cry about it, or be too upset by the precedent. If, the next time the Capitol is overrun by thugs urged on by the sitting POTUS, Senators are fool enough to reprise Cruz/Hawley, let their ouster be a warning. Of course, if another POTUS is inspired to urge thugs to overrun the Capitol, let Trump's impeachment and banishment from politics serve as warning, too.
You see where this ends up: Cruz and Hawley could be the poster children for not chasing the fringe of American paranoid politics (which curiously is always more right wing than left....) from the Senate floor after a debacle we should first act to see can never happen again (i.e., convict Trump). Their political careers seem a small price to pay for that. We should have done it with McCarthy; might have warned Hawley and Cruz off the "political opinion" defense they'll probably raise. And frankly, Cruz and Hawley were worse than McCarthy. None of the protestors has disavowed Hawley, and some said in the Capitol Cruz would approve of what they were doing.
That's enough for me, right there.
But it would take a 2/3rds vote to do it, and even McCarthy was only censured; finally. So this little trolley car ethics problem isn't likely to draw breath and puff up into reality anytime soon. But even if it did, it wouldn't bother me a bit. I mean, it's not like the parties don't do this all the time:
No, Lynn Cheney won't lose her seat; but she may lose some privileges: all for expressing a political opinion. And the Democrats would do it, too, were the shoe on the other foot. It's how a legislature functions.
Despite the quasi-sacramental nature of the First Amendment in popular discourse, even political opinion is not sacred speech which can never go too far. Not to me, anyway.
Posted by Rmj at 9:41 AM