Two columns on why the challenges should never have been made (with links to full pieces embedded in the headlines).

Pence had no power, at all, to overrule certified election results (Jan. 5):

No matter what President Trump says, Vice President Mike Pence has no discretion when Congress counts electoral votes on Wednesday. Pence’s role is merely ministerial, and he cannot lawfully help Trump overturn the states’ certified election results.

Trump was wrong on Monday night to suggest otherwise by saying that he will “like” Pence less if Pence doesn’t help. Trump is suggesting something akin to asking the scoreboard operator to overturn the results of a football game. It’s nonsense….

And even in the bizarre eventuality in which Congress as a whole claims legitimate discretion, the vice president does not.

The 12th Amendment says the “President of the Senate” (who, by definition, is the vice president of the United States, if he is present) “shall” open the certificates. Which certificates? Those sent by the states as directed by the state legislatures, according to Article II….

Ben Sasse was right that the election challenge was improper (Dec. 31): Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska was correct on multiple levels in a late-night Facebook post blasting President Trump for asking Congress to reject the duly certified electoral votes of several states.

The challenges are counter-constitutional in both a technical sense and in a deeper way that would corrode the (small ‘r’) republican order. As Sasse explains in convincing detail, they are also extravagantly counterfactual because there is nothing even close to solid evidence of voting irregularities of a scope large enough to overturn the states’ certified results.

Sasse posted his essay on Facebook, explaining why Trump and some of his Republican allies are wrong, and even hypocritical, for threatening the challenges. It is well worth a read, especially his detailed exposition of the factual inadequacy of the vote fraud allegations.

Sasse is also right, profoundly, in writing that an attempt in Congress to overturn certified election results is a “dangerous ploy” led by “institutional arsonists” who are “point[ing] a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.”…


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