On Sunday morning, Alabama’s largest newspapers ran a front-page editorial pronouncing Roy Moore unfit for the Senate on a number of counts–not the least of which was the numerous allegations that he molested and improperly pursued women and girls over several years.
Moore’s reaction was predictable. First, he threw red meat to his supporters by reminding them that his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, supported abortion.
He then reverted to what has become his standard line–the allegations are a witch hunt orchestrated by Democrats and establishment Republicans to keep him out.
Well, by Moore’s definition, Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett is a full-on, bleeding-heart liberal. After all, Jarrett believes that if Moore wins in December, the Senate shouldn’t seat him until it looks into the allegations.
Jarrett has been responsible for some of the worst recent moments on the fair and balanced network. He believes that Hillary Clinton should have faced a grand jury over her emails, believes any collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign was legal, and thinks James Comey broke the law by leaking his memo of the now-infamous conversation in which Donald Trump told him to lay off Michael Flynn. All of these statements have been called out as BS by other legal analysts.
It initially looked like more of the same when the allegations against Moore first broke. Jarrett said that he was skeptical of them because they were reported by The Washington Post after that paper endorsed Jones. But as more and more women have come forward, Jarrett has become a vocal opponent of Moore. On Wednesday, he told Sean Hannity that from his perspective, the accusers’ stories were credible because of their detail.
On Sunday’s edition of “Fox & Friends,” Jarrett dropped a bombshell–he believes that Moore should not be allowed to take his seat until it is determined that he is fit to serve in that august body.
Jarrett was discussing the furor over Al Franken’s sexual misconduct in 2006 with hosts Pete Hegseth, Abby Huntsman, and Ed Henry when the discussion turned to Moore. While noting that the Senate Ethics Committee would potentially be investigating the incident even though it took place before Franken was in the Senate, Henry wondered if the committee would do the same with Moore.
Jarrett believes that “it’s a sure bet” the Ethics Committee will look into the allegations. But he went further than that. He believes that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans should not seat Moore until the completion of that review.
And what if the committee finds there’s a there there?
“If the committee says this man is not fit to sit in the U. S. Senate, and I happen to think that his the case, then he would never be seated.”
Henry cried that it would open a Pandora’s box, raising the prospect that every Senator could face an ethics investigation. Hegseth agreed, wondering how it would look if “six people in a distant capital,” rather than “millions of voters,” decided who was fit to serve in the Senate.
Jarrett pointed out that under Senate rules, it is “within their latitude, authority, and discretion” to refuse to seat an elected Senator. He was referring to Article One, Section 5 of the Constitution, which makes each chamber of Congress “the Judge of the Elections, Returns, and Qualifications of its own Members.”
Admittedly, this situation has taken us into uncharted waters. At this point, the allegations against Moore seem to be reaching the proportions of those against Bill Cosby–far too many women have come forward for them to be credibly dismissed. No one wants a serial sexual harasser and pedophile in the Senate.
However, as much as the thought of saying “Senator Roy Moore” turns my stomach, merely refusing to seat him could potentially open a can of worms. In 1967, the House refused to seat Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. amid a series of scandals. Powell sued, and the case eventually made it to the Supreme Court.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled in Powell v. McCormack that the House could not deny Powell his seat, since he had been lawfully elected and met the constitutional requirements to serve in the House. The Court found that since the House erred by excluding him by a simple majority, rather than moving to expel him with a two-thirds majority.
Based on that precedent, if I were McConnell, I would let Moore be seated, but deny him any committee assignments pending an Ethics Committee investigation. If the committee finds there’s a there there, Moore should be expelled–an idea that Cory Gardner of Colorado has already proposed. In the absence of something we haven’t heard or seen, it shouldn’t be too hard to find 60 votes to expel him.
Based on Moore’s current line, he would likely scream that the Senate is trying to overturn an election. But he’s dead wrong. If done properly, the Senate would be well within its rights in booting out a manifestly unfit person from its ranks.