Steve Scalise: ‘It is Time We Start Following the Constitution’

The following is a transcript of the speech House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) gave on Wednesday urging Congress to address the issues brought on by a number of states which did not strictly follow the Constitutional requirements for selecting electors. (YouTube screenshot)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — I rise today to object to a number of states that did not follow the Constitutional requirement for selecting electors. Madam Speaker, this is something that is clear that our founding fathers debated about as a fundamental decision of how we choose our president. There was a lot of back and forth, if anyone reads the founding documents of our country, about the different versions they went through to ultimately come up with a process where each state has elections. Each state has a process for selecting their electors and sending them to Washington. And Madam Speaker, in a number of those states, that constitutional process was not followed.

And that’s why we’re here to object.

If you look at what the requirement says, nowhere in Article II, Section I does it give the secretary of state of a state that ability. Nowhere does it give the governor that ability. Nowhere does it give a court that ability. It exclusively gives that ability to the legislators, and in fact in most states, that’s the process that was followed.

But for those states that this wasn’t followed.

Unfortunately, this is not new.

We’ve seen over and over again, more states where the Democratic Party has gone in and selectively gone around this process.

That has to end, Madam Speaker. We have to follow the constitutional process.

Now there might be reasons why some people don’t like the process laid out by a legislative body. Madam Speaker, I served on one of those legislative bodies, when I was in the state legislature for 12 years. I served on the House and Governmental Affairs Committee where we wrote the laws for our state’s elections. And I can tell you, when we had to make changes, those were extensively negotiated.

We would have people on both sides come — Republicans and Democrats, Madam Speaker — would get together to work through those changes. Any minute change to how a precinct would function; to how a change would be made in the time of an election; signature requirements, all the many things that involve a clerk carrying out the duties in each parish in our case. You would see people come and give testimony.

Madam Speaker, both sides could come.

Clerks of court were there in the hearing rooms. It was an open process, by the way, not behind closed doors in a smoke filled room, where somebody might want to bully a secretary of state to get a different version that might benefit them or their party or their candidate. That’s not what our founding fathers said is the process. Maybe it’s how some people wanted to carry it out. But they laid out that process.

And so when we would have to make those changes they were in public view. They were heavily debated. And then ultimately, those laws were changed in advance of the election, so everybody knew what the rules were. People on both sides, knew how to play the rules before the game started; not getting somewhere in the process and saying, well you don’t think it’s going to benefit you, so you try to go around the Constitution.

That’s not how our system works. It’s gotten out of hand. And so President Trump has called this out. And President Trump has stood up to it. So many of us have stood up to it. And in fact, over 100 of my colleagues, Madam Speaker, asked the Supreme Court to address this problem just a few weeks ago. And unfortunately, the court chose to punt.

They didn’t answer it one way or the other.

They didn’t want to get in the middle of this discussion.

We don’t have that luxury today. We have to discuss this — we have to fix this.

In fact, on our first full day of this Congress, many of us brought legislation onto the house floor to start fixing the problems with our elections to restore integrity to the election process which has been lost by so many millions of Americans. And we had a vote. Every single Republican voted to reform the process. Every single Democrat voted against it. They don’t want to fix this problem. But the Constitution is our guide. And it’s time we start following the Constitution. It’s time we get back to what our founding fathers said is the process for selecting electors. That’s the legislature’s in public view, not behind closed doors, not smoke filled rooms. Not bullying somebody that might give you a better ruling. Let’s get back to rule of law and follow the Constitution.

Madam Speaker, and I yield back the balance of time.