Twenty Republican state attorneys general signed a letter denouncing the House Democrats’ controversial election reform bill as unconstitutional for a slew of reasons just hours before the measure was expected to be voted on.
The letter — led by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita — tore into H. R. 1, the “For the People Act,” a massive election reform bill and a leading priority for House Democrats this Congress.
“This monstrosity of a bill betrays the Constitution, dangerously federalizes state elections, and undermines the integrity of the ballot box,” Rokita said in a statement to Fox News. “As a former chief election officer, and now an Attorney General, I know this would be a disaster for election integrity and confidence in the processes that have been developed over time to instill confidence in the idea of ‘one person, one vote.’”
The attorneys general said the bill “betrays several Constitutional deficiencies and alarming mandates” that would “federalize” statewide elections across America and that “states have principal —and with presidential elections, exclusive — responsibility to safeguard” how they hold elections under the Constitution.
“The Act would invert that constitutional structure, commandeer state resources, confuse and muddle elections procedures, and erode faith in our elections and systems of governance,” they wrote.
They then warned lawmakers that they “may wish to consider the Act’s constitutional vulnerabilities as well as the policy critiques of state officials.”
The twenty attorneys general marched on in their letter, arguing that the For the People Act “implicates the Electors Clause” of the Constitution. The Electors Clause guarantees each state legislature the right to “direct allotment of presidential electors, and separately affords Congress only the more limited power to ‘determine the Time of chusing the Electors.’”
The attorneys general argued that this “exclusive division of power” outlined in the Constitution “differs markedly” from the Election Clause in Article I of the Constitution, “which says that both States and Congress have the power to regulate the ‘time, place, and manner’ of congressional elections.”
“That distinction is not an accident of drafting,” wrote the multi-state legal team. “After extensive debate, the Constitution’s Framers deliberately excluded Congress from deciding how presidential electors would be chosen in order to avoid presidential dependence on Congress for position and authority.”
The group then pointed to the 1892 Supreme Court case McPherson v. Blacker that “[upheld] a Michigan statute apportioning presidential electors by district.”
“The exclusivity of state power to ‘define the method’ of choosing presidential electors means that Congress may not force states to permit presidential voting by mail or curbside voting, for example,” the group wrote.
The group pointed to a 2019 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, where Roberts “noted with respect to congressional elections, the Framers ‘assign[ed] the issue to the state legislatures, expressly checked and balanced by the Federal Congress.'” They then blasted the bill as not having Congress act “as a check, but is instead overreaching by seizing the role of principal election regulator.”
The attorneys general torched the bill’s “constitutional deficiencies” as “only the beginning of the Act’s problems” and that, “[a]s a matter of election administration policy, it is difficult to imagine a legislative proposal more threatening to election integrity and voter confidence.”
They took aim at the For the People Act’s “limitations” on voter identification laws, roasting the act as doing “little to ensure voters say who they are” and pointing out that “requiring” a government ID to vote in an election “represents nothing more th… (Read more)