I’ve been trying to reframe the last few years. Maybe we should embrace the chaos as civics lessons.
ITEM: There were discussions about whether the previous guy in the White House was profiting off the office. “Generally, these anti-corruption provisions, the so-called Emoluments Clauses, prohibit the president from receiving any profit, gain, or advantage from any foreign or domestic government. Impeachment, as outlined by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 65, is a political remedy (though not the only remedy) for a president’s egregious violations of these prohibitions.”
Alas, in January 2021, the justices of the Supreme Court “dismissed two cases about then-President Trump’s alleged violations of the Emoluments Clauses… In doing so, the Court forfeited a golden opportunity to clarify just what these mandates mean for future presidents. And its refusal to rule one way or another may inadvertently encourage another president to brazenly leverage his or her power for profit.”
I dare say most readers had never heard of the word “emoluments” before 2017. So the citizenry is better informed, right?
Counting the electoral votes
ITEM: Did you know that Congress meets on the 6th of January after the Presidential election to count the electoral votes? Well, since 2021, NOW you do. It’s right there in 3 U.S. Code § 15.
As an old poli sci major, I was aware of it, but I never paid any attention until 2001, when there was some noise about challenging the Bush victory, but it was all bluster. I did follow it in 2009 because I couldn’t believe, in a good way, that Barack Obama was going to become President. But I all but forgot in 2005 and 2013, after W and Obama were reelected.
I noted it in 2017 because I couldn’t believe, in a not-so-good way, that djt was going to become President. Then I heard him, in his idolatry, say that Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election results.
Still, the 2021 event was supposed to be largely ceremonial, with Pence, Nancy Pelosi, and others bringing their families to watch the beginning of the peaceful transfer of power. That didn’t work out as well as it might have.
And the US has exported political chaos to Brazil as Bolsonaro backers stormed government buildings in a January 6-style attempted coup. The country’s President, Congress, and its top court have jointly said the actions were terrorist acts. Last I checked, Bolsonaro had taken refuge in Florida.
Picking the Speaker
ITEM: Electing a Speaker of the House is usually a pretty straightforward process, though some horsetrading takes place. For instance, when Nancy Pelosi was up for the job in early 2019, she agreed to limit her tenure to two two-year terms. (I remembered that, but I also read it in a right-wing publication trying disingenuously to show that Kevin McCarthy’s difficulties weren’t all that uncommon.)
I knew one did not need to be a member of the House of Representatives to be the Speaker, though I believe it’s always been a Congressperson. So when Matt Gaetz nominated djt, there was no specific prohibition against that.
“Constitutionally, a current member of the Executive branch is prohibited from simultaneously holding office in the Legislative Branch. The Ineligibility Clause (Article 1, Section 6, Clause 2 states:
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
But I could find nothing SPECIFICALLY that indicates whether the Speaker must be a certain age; members of the House have to be 25. I suppose someone too young to vote could be selected.