While gearing up to argue for removing Miller-Meeks, Elias published, at his Democracy Docket website, an article by Harvard law professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos. Elias highlighted the essay, putting it in a “Spotlight” position and promoting it on Twitter as an “exclusive analysis” of Congress’ “forgotten electoral power.” Stephanopoulos argues Congress should refuse to seat any candidate who “benefited” from voter suppression or gerrymandering. Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution, he points out, makes each chamber of Congress “the Judge of the Elections [and] Returns … of its own Members.” A simple majority of the House or Senate would be enough to undo any election, and neither the courts nor the president would have any grounds to intervene.
Article I, Section 5 is of course the same power Elias is calling on the House of Representatives to use in replacing Rep. Miller-Meeks with Rita Hart.
RealClearInvestigations asked Stephanopoulos whether an election would have to be close for the majority party to refuse to seat a winning minority party candidate. “I made no effort to work out the details of how exactly each chamber should exercise this authority,” Stephanopoulos replied.
But the practice would hardly be infrequent. Stephanopoulos defines voter suppression as any policy “that makes it hard for people to register and vote.” For Elias that means, among other things, any state law that shortens early voting, limits the number of ballot drop boxes, or blocks ballots received after Election Day. With a concept of voter suppression so broad, encompassing just about every conservative state’s election laws, there would be no shortage of Republicans who could find themselves unseated.
To avoid the appearance that refusing to seat one’s political opponents was a partisan power-grab, Stephanopoulos recommends creating “expert” panels to which this power could be delegated. “Each panel would be made up of respected election specialists, including administrators, attorneys and academics” who would determine well ahead of Election Day which candidates benefited from vote suppression. The “House and Senate could each rubber stamp these recommendations and rely on them to welcome — or exclude — members-elect looking to take their seats.”
“This is a terrible idea, undemocratic, elitist and extremely problematic,” says Lonna Atkeson, director of the Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy at the University of New Mexico. “The idea of an expert panel to overturn elections is crazy. Democracy is about voters, not experts.”
But as crazy as it may seem, Stephanopoulos is perfectly serious. So is Elias.
The effort to remove Miller-Meeks from Congress and put Rita Hart in her seat is Elias’s broader strategy in miniature. Under their interpretation of Article I, Section 5, Congress has an unbounded and uncontestable power to control who is and isn’t a lawmaker.
For now, that theory is being put to use to wrest a single Iowa House seat away from Republicans. But armed with an expansive vision of how Article I, Section 5 can be used, there’s little reason to think Marc Elias would restrain his ambitions…Original Source…