Mike Pence Stands Up for the Rule of Law in Federalist Society Speech

Like most Vice Presidents, Mike Pence was loyal to his superior while in office.  Of late, former President Trump and some of his more extreme allies have been touting the notion, hatched a bit more than a year ago, that Pence should have either refused to count the electoral votes that put Joe Biden in the White House, or have simply “counted” them in a way where Trump would have come out ahead.  Whether or not one views the last Presidential election as having had its episodes of fraud (what national election hasn’t to some degree?), there is no reasonable way to view that stance as consistent with the rule of law, or as anything but a dangerous deviation of how we do things in this country.

Today, speaking at the Federalist Society, Mike Pence gave his answer.  The Washington Post has the story.

Here are some relevant excerpts (emphasis added):

The ongoing battle over the future of the Republican Party erupted into open view Friday as former vice president Mike Pence said it would have been “un-American” for him to overturn the election at Donald Trump’s insistence….

In Florida, Pence, Trump’s ever-loyal vice president, took his most explicit shots at the former president, saying “President Trump is wrong” when he called for Pence to overturn the election by rejecting electors from several states who supported Joe Biden when Congress gathered on Jan. 6 to certify the election. He drew raucous applause from the crowd of conservative lawyers at the Federalist Society conference.


During his speech Friday, Pence…called Jan. 6 a “dark day in the history of the United States Capitol” and said the only role Congress has with respect to the electoral college “is to open and count votes submitted and certified by the states.”

Pence said a vice president should play no role disrupting that process.

“Frankly there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president,” Pence said.

Pence said he remained firm in his commitment to the Constitution, “even when it would be politically expedient to do otherwise.”

I voted for Trump twice and had the honor of being one of his four nominees to the US Sentencing Commission.  I think he did some very good things for the country, particularly in judicial selection.  But adherence to law is incomparably more important than just doing what you want or what you think, for the moment, would be politically advantageous.  This is true of the Office of the President, which is bound by the Take Care Clause, and even more true of the judicial branch, in which judges must leave their own preferences behind and follow the law as written, see, e.g., Justice Sotomayor’s concurrence Terry v. United States (joining the unanimous rejection of the Biden Justice Department’s preposterous confession of error in behalf of a career crack dealer).

I have heard it argued that members of the Federalist Society, of which I am one, live in a hotbed of blind, lockstep support for Trump.  This was never even remotely true, and its falsity was further emphasized today by, as the Post reports, the “raucous applause” given Mike Pence’s standing up to Trump and for the rule of law.  Indeed, I know from someone who was in the audience that Pence received a standing ovation.

This was a good day for Mike Pence, for the Federalist Society, and most critically for the hope of national unity in support of the importance of the rule of law.


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