Jim Crawford: Vance’s positions show dangers for the republic

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 12, 2024

How generous should we be with the junior U.S. senator of Ohio, J.D. Vance, when he expresses a disdain for the U.S. Constitution so uninformed and egregious that, if considered seriously, would make him unqualified to serve?

Where to begin? Vance’s grasp of the Constitution is so tenuous as to suggest even a cursory reading of our foundational document would have spared him comments he recently made in public interviews. It is apparent that Vance understands the Constitution to be entirely malleable to whatever political device or intent he prefers to advance, notwithstanding the absurdity of the claims he offers.

Consider Vance’s claim that any president (think Donald Trump here) can ignore any Supreme Court ruling that the president finds disagreeable. The example Vance provided in support of this usurpation of the division of powers was his recommendation that if elected in 2024, Trump should fire “every civil servant in the administrative state, replace them with our people.” 

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The loose translation of that comment means terminating the non-partisan federal workforce and replacing them with Trump loyalists, a concept the Supreme Court would find untenable and illegal. Vance, not troubled by the Separation of Powers within the Constitution in the least, would invite a constitutional crisis for the purpose of corrupting the federal administrative state.

Vance, in an ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos, also opined that Vice President Mike Pence should not have certified the 2020 election results. Vance argues that rejecting an uncontested election certified by 50 secretaries of state was the only “legitimate way” to satisfy those who, like himself, had certain reservations about the veracity of the election results. 

Vance resists considering that those objections were adjudicated by the courts, as in the case of Pennsylvania, and found wanting. Likewise, those concerned with voting machine miscounts were similarly bereft of substance, resulting in the Dominion/Fox $700M settlement. In short, there is no legal example of Vance’s “legitimate way” of setting aside an uncontested election.

Further, Vance takes the deep dive into electoral legerdemain when he argues “That…(sic) we needed to have multiple slates of electors,” referring to the 2020 election deniers. The Constitution makes no such provision, and the Supreme Court has ruled against the “independent state legislature” theory that would justify the insanity of multiple alternative electors. It should be noted that at the end of the 2020 attempts to overturn the election, no “alternative or multiple electors” appeared before Congress demanding certification or recognition.

Vance might also reflect on the meaning of the current and extensive litigation on the matter of false electors and Trump’s direct attempts to construct such extra-constitutional entities. Michigan, for example, had selected a group of Republican volunteers who would have trudged to the halls of Congress on the day of election certification and appeared requesting Pence to recognize them lacking any credentials other than their heartfelt desire for a different outcome of a lost election. Fifteen of the Michigan electors face prison time for their efforts to subvert the 2020 election.

Finally, Vance, in an attack on the very foundation of the republic, attacks the jury system, claiming that juries who found Trump guilty of sexual assault and defamation were “not legitimate” because they were from “liberal” states. Would Vance argue only Republicans could judge the ex-president?

It is helpful, and generous, to acknowledge that Vance’s arguments are perhaps imbued by his interest in serving in a future Trump administration. No other rationale could support his seeming distaste for the Constitution.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.