VP Pence Will Not Block Biden Electors

 

Vice President Mike Pence released a statement Wednesday that he will not seek to block electors for President-elect Joe Biden. The memo was issued as President Donald Trump gave a speech pressuring him to reject certifying the 2020 election. The text of the Vice President’s statement follows.

Dear Colleague:

Today, for the 59th time in our Nation’s history, Congress will convene in Joint Session to count the electoral votes for President of the United States. Under our Constitution, it will be my duty as Vice President and as President of the Senate to serve as the presiding officer.

After an election with significant allegations of voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of this election. The American people choose the American President, and have every right under the law to demand free and fair elections and a full investigation of electoral misconduct. As presiding officer, I will do my duty to ensure that these concerns receive a fair and open hearing in the Congress of the United States. Objections will be heard, evidence will be presented, and the elected representatives of the American people will make their decision.

Our Founders created the Electoral College in 1787, and it first convened in 1789. With the advent of political parties, the Electoral College was amended in 1804 to provide that Electors vote separately for President and Vice President. Following a contentious election in 1876, with widespread allegations of fraud and malfeasance, Congress spent a decade establishing rules and procedures to govern the counting of electoral votes and the resolution of any objections.

During the 130 years since the Electoral Count Act was passed, Congress has, without exception, used these formal procedures to count the electoral votes every four years.

Given the controversy surrounding this year’s election, some approach this year’s quadrennial tradition with great expectation, and others with dismissive disdain. Some believe that as Vice President, I should be able to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally. Others believe that electoral votes should never be challenged in a Joint Session of Congress.

After a careful study of our Constitution, our laws, and our history, I believe neither view is correct.

The President is the chief executive officer of the Federal Government under our Constitution, possessing immense power to impact the lives of the American people. The Presidency belongs to the American people, and to them alone. When disputes concerning a presidential election arise, under Federal law, it is the people’s representatives who review the evidence and resolve disputes through a democratic process.

Our Founders were deeply skeptical of concentrations of power and created a Republic based on separation of powers and checks and balances under the Constitution of the United States.

Vesting the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide presidential contests would be entirely antithetical to that design. As a student of history who loves the Constitution and reveres its Framers, I do not believe that the Founders of our country intended to invest the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress, and no Vice President in American history has ever asserted such authority. Instead, Vice Presidents presiding over Joint Sessions have uniformly followed the Electoral Count Act, conducting the proceedings in an orderly manner even where the count resulted in the defeat of their party or their own candidacy.

As Supreme Court Justice Joseph Bradley wrote following the contentious election of 1876, “the powers of the President of the Senate are merely ministerial… He is not invested with any authority for making any investigation outside of the Joint Meeting of the two Houses… Rif any examination at all is to be gone into, or any judgment exercised in relation to the votes received, it must be performed and exercised by the two Houses.” More recently, as the former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Lustig observed, “[t]he only responsibility and power of the Vice President under the Constitution is to faithfully count the Electoral College votes as they have been cast,” adding “[t]he Constitution does not empower the Vice President to alter in any way the votes that have been cast, either by rejecting certain votes or otherwise.”

It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.

While my role as presiding officer is largely ceremonial, the role of the Congress is much different, and the Electoral Count Act of 1887 establishes a clear procedure to address election controversies when they arise during the count of the vote of the Electoral College. Given the voting irregularities that took place in our November elections and the disregard of state election statutes by some officials, I welcome the efforts of Senate and House members who have stepped forward to use their authority under the law to raise objections and present evidence.

As presiding officer, I will ensure that any objections that are sponsored by both a Representative and a Senator are given proper consideration, and that all facts supporting those objections are brought before the Congress and the American people. Those who suggest that raising objections under the Electoral Count Act is improper or undemocratic ignore more than 130 years of history, and fail to acknowledge that Democrats raised objections in Congress each of the last three times that a Republican candidate for President prevailed.

Today it will be my duty to preside when the Congress convenes in Joint Session to count the votes of the Electoral College, and I will do so to the best of my ability. I ask only that Representatives and Senators who will assemble before me approach this moment with the same sense of duty and an open mind, setting politics and personal interests aside, and do our part to faithfully discharge our duties under the Constitution. I also pray that we will do so with humility and faith, remembering the words of John Quincy Adams, who said, “Duty is ours; results are God’s.”

Four years ago, surrounded by my family, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, which ended with the words, “So help me God.” Today I want to assure the American people that I will keep the oath I made to them and I will keep the oath I made to Almighty God. When the Joint Session of Congress convenes today, I will do my duty to see to it that we open the certificates of the Electors of the several states, we hear objections raised by Senators and Representatives, and we count the votes of the Electoral College for President and Vice President in a manner consistent with our Constitution, laws, and history. So Help Me God.

Michael R. Pence
Vice President of the United States

Published in Elections, Politics
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  1. Joan of Ark La Tex Member
    Joan of Ark La Tex
    @JoALT

    Does this surprise anyone? 

    • #1
  2. Theodoric of Freiberg Member
    Theodoric of Freiberg
    @TheodoricofFreiberg

    Good for Pence.

    • #2
  3. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    I fully expect the Vice President to approve the electors, and that Mr. Biden will ascend in due course to the White House.

    However, I don’t see a statement to that effect in the Vice President’s letter. Am I missing something?

    • #3
  4. David March Thatcher
    David March
    @ToryWarWriter

    This is my shocked face.

     

    • #4
  5. formerlawprof Coolidge
    formerlawprof
    @formerlawprof

    President Designs New Bus; Throws Vice-President Under It.

    THAT was going to be the subject line of my last post on Richochet.

    Instead, I will just say that I was Mike Pence’s Constitutional Law teacher years ago at Indiana University School of Law, and would have bet any amount of money that he would have rejected the Trump lie that Pence “agreed” with the nonsensical nonsense being spouted about the “power” of the Veep to do . . . whatever.

    As I have told dozens of people over the years, Mike was neither my best nor my worst student, but he was by far the most conscientious student I ever taught. He came up after class almost every day to discuss the material, and he was absolutely unashamed to say what point he didn’t “get,” and challenged me to “make him get it.”

    • #5
  6. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    He was in an impossible situation. He’s been a great VP. I hope he is appreciated for it.

    • #6
  7. carcat74 Member
    carcat74
    @carcat74

    After what he did to the RFRA in Indiana, this doesn’t surprise. However, the counting starts at 1:00 p.m.  What would happen if he counts ALL the electors, including the states that have 2 slates of electors?

    • #7
  8. OwnedByDogs Coolidge
    OwnedByDogs
    @JuliaBlaschke

    Good for Pence and the rabble outside the Capitol should be ashamed of themselves. From the Tea Party to this disgusting display.

    • #8
  9. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Pence acted wisely, as expected.

    But an independent investigation should have already been put into place. Congressional hearings do not carefully, honestly, and thoroughly present truth, with or without repercussions.

    If the widespread blatant fraud and disregard of state laws is not dealt with now, it probably never will be. Democrats have little interest in free and fair elections, so reforms are not forthcoming where they are most needed. Republicans will not have infinite opportunities to enforce rule of law.

    • #9
  10. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    On a side note, I must say that I find it amazing that SCOTUS sat silently while it has watched the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violate the separation of powers by usurping the authority of the Pennsylvania legislature and violating the commonwealth’s own constitution by creating its own election law out of thin air.

    Rampant election fraud aside, if this is allowed to stand it establishes a dangerous precedent for other state supreme courts to act unlawfully. When the highest courts in the land do so, or in the case of SCOTUS is willfully negligent in upholding the Constitution and the laws of the land, then America is no longer a constitutional republic but a tyranny…and all the evils and elimination of individual rights and freedoms that come with that. Fasten your seatbelts.

    • #10
  11. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    OwnedByDogs (View Comment):

    Good for Pence and the rabble outside the Capitol should be ashamed of themselves. From the Tea Party to this disgusting display.

    Name checks out.

    • #11
  12. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Setting aside for a moment — no, let’s make it forever — the President’s tweets and comments, which are often a bit outrageous and best overlooked, I don’t find a lot of fault with the various conservative factions here. Many of us believe that there was a lot of fraud, perhaps a determinative amount. It is reasonable that peaceful demonstrations should occur, and that various theories and suppositions should be voiced. I happen to think that the Vice President should in fact approve the electors, and that Trump will have to step down — and will do so peacefully. There’s nothing objectionable with some members of Congress opposing the electors, and I think the Vice President’s claim that the matter will receive a full airing and discussion is exactly right.

    I guess I don’t care too much about the drama, as long as the rules are ultimately followed. I think the grotesque miscarriage of justice in all of this occurred in the various states, when they made a mockery of electoral integrity by abandoning any pretense of verification and control — and then showed an alarming disinterest in examining the consequences of that. But all the talk, arguing, theorizing, etc., that’s all just the way people hash things out in a democratic republic.

    • #12
  13. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    On a side note, I must say that I find it amazing that SCOTUS sat silently while it has watched the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violate the separation of powers by usurping the authority of the Pennsylvania legislature and violating the commonwealth’s own constitution by creating its own election law out of thin air.

    You don’t expect your gardener to fix your car, why would the Supreme Court fix the state legislature’s method of choosing electors?  It is their responsibility, and the Court has no power to overturn their choices.

    • #13
  14. Jason Obermeyer Member
    Jason Obermeyer
    @JasonObermeyer

    formerlawprof (View Comment):

    nonsensical nonsense being spouted about the “power” of the Veep to do . . . whatever.

    While I don’t think Pence should have done it, its not really nonsensical. Smarter people than you think otherwise:

    https://americanmind.org/salvo/what-happens-if-no-one-wins/

    I think a lot of supposedly conservative lawyers make the mistake of thinking there is always a judicial answer or that the Constitutional process will make them feel good about how it plays out. Neither are true.

     

    • #14
  15. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    On a side note, I must say that I find it amazing that SCOTUS sat silently while it has watched the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violate the separation of powers by usurping the authority of the Pennsylvania legislature and violating the commonwealth’s own constitution by creating its own election law out of thin air.

    You don’t expect your gardener to fix your car, why would the Supreme Court fix the state legislature’s method of choosing electors? It is their responsibility, and the Court has no power to overturn their choices.

    That’s not what I said. The issue is not “fixing state legislatures”. The Supreme Court has a vested interest in preserving the separation of powers and given the supremacy clause has an obligation to hold state supreme courts to do the same. Not to do so invites multiple tyrannical state high courts and states, that easily violate their own constitutions without correction or consequence. Sadly I think this is where we are headed.

    • #15
  16. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    I wish he had been the top of the ticket….

     

    • #16
  17. OwnedByDogs Coolidge
    OwnedByDogs
    @JuliaBlaschke

    Stina (View Comment):

    OwnedByDogs (View Comment):

    Good for Pence and the rabble outside the Capitol should be ashamed of themselves. From the Tea Party to this disgusting display.

    Name checks out.

    So does your avatar.

    • #17
  18. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    Those who suggest that raising objections under the Electoral Count Act is improper or undemocratic ignore more than 130 years of history, and fail to acknowledge that Democrats raised objections in Congress each of the last three times that a Republican candidate for President prevailed.

    Glad he added this part because some people are acting like objecting to the results is somehow undemocratic when in fact it is what Democrats did to every Republican president over the last 20 years. But the idea that Pence could have unilaterally overturned the results doesn’t make sense. If the VP had that power, we would have seen it used by Al Gore in 2000.

    • #18
  19. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    The losses today in GA make this easier for Pence.  By any honest reading the GA loss is on Trump.  Did the Dems cheat at the last election?  Did the media lie massively?  Did the social media platforms put a bigfoot on the scale in the Dems favor?  Did the components of the establishment generally support the Dems? Did insipid “Yuck, OrangeManBad” short-sightedness harm?  Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. and Yes.  But the margin of loss in GA came from Trump (the GA Secretary of State didn’t help by releasing that call).  The President’s GA rally was a massive voter-suppression for the GOP Senatorial candidates.  I know this from people there, first-hand.

    I am interested in fighting battles in ways that have that have the best shot at being won, and when won are not a pyrrhic victory.  Trump is not helping himself or his hopes for a political dynasty via his children.  I find myself now to be generally in line with the men at PowerLine and Kurt Schlichter: Trump deserved to be re-elected, he got great results as President, the Swamp lied cheated and stole, there were enormous voting irregularities in this last election, the Media (Corporate and Social) acted in a grotesquely partisan manner, the Dems successfully used Nazi-like tactics with their BLM/Antifa Street-thugs, and our institutions are in tatters and need to re-earn respect from us.  But don’t promise a Kraken and then not deliver.  Don’t start your lawfare after the election, when that needed to happen before.

    To have won would be best.  But a close loss in Congress, along with a majority of Americans agreeing that there were major voting irregularities puts us in a very strong position.  We can make a lot of trouble and blame it all on the Dems.  They have complete control of Washington now.  Every bad thing is their fault, and there are ample numbers of potential bad things queued up.  We just need to identify a couple of Dems to be problem children for any reason and we can grind things to a halt.  We’re not going to get anything good and constructive from this new Congress and President Asterisks.  So the next best thing is to grind everything to a halt by fair means and foul, and blame it all on the Dems.  The Media (Social and otherwise) will always blame us.  So what.  What’s new.

    This is not about giving up and accepting the stolen election.  It’s about a strategic regrouping.  We need to keep the white hot anger burning, but channel that into constructive ways for victory at the next battle, not emotionally satisfying runs into the mouth of the cannon.  Keep reminding Biden/Harris that they’re illegitimate with little digs; always seeding our comments with little off-hand jokes/references to the obviously stolen election of 2020.  Keep laughing at the new decrepit, empty-suit, vain, corrupt, plagiarist President/Vice President* Biden/Harris.  They are two of a perfect pair.  Keep throwing sand into the gears.  Keep them afraid of us.  Just like “Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself” memes piss-off the right people.  Ditto with “Trump won” memes.  4 years of that will be delicious.

    We need to fight smart, fight ruthlessly, fight cold-blooded, and fight to win in every which way.   We are going through a major re-alignment in the US and the world.  The sides are shaking out, but the winner is far from clear and there is probably another decade until we have a new consensus.

    • #19
  20. Jason Obermeyer Member
    Jason Obermeyer
    @JasonObermeyer

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    On a side note, I must say that I find it amazing that SCOTUS sat silently while it has watched the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violate the separation of powers by usurping the authority of the Pennsylvania legislature and violating the commonwealth’s own constitution by creating its own election law out of thin air.

    You don’t expect your gardener to fix your car, why would the Supreme Court fix the state legislature’s method of choosing electors? It is their responsibility, and the Court has no power to overturn their choices.

    That’s not what I said. The issue is not “fixing state legislatures”. The Supreme Court has a vested interest in preserving the separation of powers and given the supremacy clause has an obligation to hold state supreme courts to do the same. Not to do so invites multiple tyrannical state high courts and states, that easily violate their own constitutions without correction or consequence. Sadly I think this is where we are headed.

    If you look at the concurrence in Bush v. Gore, the argument is that the State legislatures are effectively making federal law because their power in this area comes from the US Constitution. The majority went for an equal protection analysis because it maximizes the Court’s ability to get involved when and were it wants to. 

    In any event, the answer given in the arguments laid out in the article I linked above is that Congress (either the Senate President alone or the entire Congress from a procedure of its own devising) decides which votes to count in any event. If that is correct, its not clear what rule either the state or the US supreme courts have.  That way you both get to be wrong.

    • #20
  21. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    OwnedByDogs (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    OwnedByDogs (View Comment):

    Good for Pence and the rabble outside the Capitol should be ashamed of themselves. From the Tea Party to this disgusting display.

    Name checks out.

    So does your avatar.

    Damn straight, bud.

    • #21
  22. Jason Obermeyer Member
    Jason Obermeyer
    @JasonObermeyer

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    Those who suggest that raising objections under the Electoral Count Act is improper or undemocratic ignore more than 130 years of history, and fail to acknowledge that Democrats raised objections in Congress each of the last three times that a Republican candidate for President prevailed.

    But the idea that Pence could have unilaterally overturned the results doesn’t make sense. If the VP had that power, we would have seen it used by Al Gore in 2000.

    The fact that he didn’t use it doesn’t mean its not there. Sometimes people just accept it (think Nixon). He could have also held to the opposite view but his decision would not be strictly speaking precedential; although, because he went gently means it is a bad for Pence to do the opposite even if a convincing case could be made that he could. Something, something norms.

    • #22
  23. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Protesters just stormed the Capital Building and streaming through the halls. Live coverage of what happens when you ignore the people:

     

     

    • #23
  24. OwnedByDogs Coolidge
    OwnedByDogs
    @JuliaBlaschke

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Protesters just stormed the Capital Building and streaming through the halls. Live coverage of what happens when you ignore the people:

    https://youtu.be/UR3BOmm8Pok

    Which people? Those are not my people.

    • #24
  25. OwnedByDogs Coolidge
    OwnedByDogs
    @JuliaBlaschke

    Stina (View Comment):

    OwnedByDogs (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    OwnedByDogs (View Comment):

    Good for Pence and the rabble outside the Capitol should be ashamed of themselves. From the Tea Party to this disgusting display.

    Name checks out.

    So does your avatar.

    Damn straight, bud.

    I wish we could mute people on Ricochet. This idolization of Trump is nauseating.

    • #25
  26. Jason Obermeyer Member
    Jason Obermeyer
    @JasonObermeyer

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    Those who suggest that raising objections under the Electoral Count Act is improper or undemocratic ignore more than 130 years of history, and fail to acknowledge that Democrats raised objections in Congress each of the last three times that a Republican candidate for President prevailed.

    Glad he added this part because some people are acting like objecting to the results is somehow undemocratic when in fact it is what Democrats did to every Republican president over the last 20 years. But the idea that Pence could have unilaterally overturned the results doesn’t make sense. If the VP had that power, we would have seen it used by Al Gore in 2000.

    It also should be noted that the authority ultimately has to come from the 12th Amendment rather than the Electoral Count Act.  To the extent the Act dictates to future congresses how it might exercise its power under the 12th Amendment, it is not constitutional; although, not following the Act in ways that advantage your side would led people to cry foul. 

    • #26
  27. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    OwnedByDogs (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Protesters just stormed the Capital Building and streaming through the halls. Live coverage of what happens when you ignore the people:

    https://youtu.be/UR3BOmm8Pok

    Which people? Those are not my people.

    Your right. They are mine, though.

    • #27
  28. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    OwnedByDogs (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    OwnedByDogs (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    OwnedByDogs (View Comment):

    Good for Pence and the rabble outside the Capitol should be ashamed of themselves. From the Tea Party to this disgusting display.

    Name checks out.

    So does your avatar.

    Damn straight, bud.

    I wish we could mute people on Ricochet. This idolization of Trump is nauseating.

    Idolizing? You should figure out what that word means.

    • #28
  29. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Jason Obermeyer (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    On a side note, I must say that I find it amazing that SCOTUS sat silently while it has watched the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violate the separation of powers by usurping the authority of the Pennsylvania legislature and violating the commonwealth’s own constitution by creating its own election law out of thin air.

    You don’t expect your gardener to fix your car, why would the Supreme Court fix the state legislature’s method of choosing electors? It is their responsibility, and the Court has no power to overturn their choices.

    That’s not what I said. The issue is not “fixing state legislatures”. The Supreme Court has a vested interest in preserving the separation of powers and given the supremacy clause has an obligation to hold state supreme courts to do the same. Not to do so invites multiple tyrannical state high courts and states, that easily violate their own constitutions without correction or consequence. Sadly I think this is where we are headed.

    If you look at the concurrence in Bush v. Gore, the argument is that the State legislatures are effectively making federal law because their power in this area comes from the US Constitution. The majority went for an equal protection analysis because it maximizes the Court’s ability to get involved when and were it wants to.

    In any event, the answer given in the arguments laid out in the article I linked above is that Congress (either the Senate President alone or the entire Congress from a procedure of its own devising) decides which votes to count in any event. If that is correct, its not clear what rule either the state or the US supreme courts have. That way you both get to be wrong.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with my original comment.

    • #29
  30. God-LovingWoman Coolidge
    God-LovingWoman
    @GodLovingWoman

    Joan of Ark La Tex (View Comment):

    Does this surprise anyone?

    No, but it still throws a flaming spear through my heart.

    • #30