For someone, who had just written Constitution and Its Making- Musings, Anecdotes and Episodes, published on 26th, Nov,2020- Law or Constitution Day, while alluding the US Constitution too, what is going on in America right now, is absolutely stunning and unbelievable. I cannot for the life of me believe that a country which declared independence on July,4th, 1776, and adopted its Constitution which is 233 years strong, ‘is engaged in treason and sedition inside of the US Congress’ as Joe Scarborough, a Republican himself, says on Morning Joe on MSNBC.
On 6th Jan,2021, 13 Senators and over 140 members of the House of Representatives (several with Ivy League degrees), have decided to challenge the ‘certification of votes from the Electoral College’. A mere ceremonial procedure and practice of more than two centuries to be presided over by the Vice President of the US of A, is now being sought to be morphed into an adjudication process, which it is not and cannot never constitutionally be. There is no way the joint sitting of the US Congress can overturn the results of the elections on Nov 3, 2020.
US Congress has no right, power or jurisdiction to disenfranchise the millions of votes cast and already counted. The results are a done deal. Not an electoral steal as Trump is crying hoarse. Vice President Mike Pence is required to preside over and not decide the reading of the vote count. He pulls out the Electoral College vote count and hands it over to the tellers to read the numbers- 306-232 in favour of Joe Biden. Mike Pence cannot pull rabbits out of the hat to declare Trump the POTUS in a coup. No way, it is possible or constitutionally permissible.
Interestingly, after a hard day’s work when the Founders of the US Constitution were walking out, after their job to frame the mother of all laws, the first of its kind in the world, till then, in Sept,1789, an old lady asked the elder statesman Benjamin Franklin, “What have you got for us?”. The reply, “We have delivered a Republic. If we can keep it.”.
The Grand Old Party and snd its minions and hangers on, fearful of Trump’s base are trying their darnedest to keep and deliver on US, as a Banana Republic to the US and the world. Despite over 60 law suits challenging the ‘vote steal’ being thrown out by various courts, presided over by Judges, who were Trump appointees, Trump and his acolytes are not stopping the Art of the Steal.
The US, leader of the free world, oldest democracy, which prided itself on its democratic legacy and credentials and teaching the rest of the world, a thing or two and more, stands exposed stark naked , led by their outgoing POTUS. It cannot get worse.
No matter it is fascinating to watch the election steal – what with Donald J Trump- in a leaked phone call- asking the Georgian State Secretary to get him 11,780 votes from somewhere to overturn the results- to the constitutionally inclined, it is sad and bad, as it can ever be.
The US Constitution is the shortest in the democratic world while ours is the longest. The shortest had a lot to offer to ours in the making of Rule of Law and Procedure Established by Law. Now the shortest is being shortened by being torn to shreds by their POTUS who swore on the Constitution when he took office. The irony is too stark and dark.
All the founders of the US Constitution and even our own framers from the Constituent Assembly must be squirming in their graves, on what is playing out in the US. Joe Biden is to be sworn in as the 46th President on Jan, 20, 2021 as is the constitutional mandate. But the incoming President would be swearing on the US Constitution which would be a tormented, tarnished, tattered and very nearly a shredded one. And that is a tragedy US may take a long, long time to overcome and for me, as a student of constitutional law, it cannot get worse.
(Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan, Author is practising advocate in the Madras High Court)