Nancy Pelosi claims that as House speaker, she has the authority to determine who can be seated in the elected body.
Her claim arose regarding Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, whose six-vote victory was certified by Iowa after a recount.
In January, Pelosi provisionally seated Miller-Meeks when the full House was sworn in. When she was asked two weeks ago by a reporter if she might remove Miller-Meeks and seat her Democratic opponent, Rita Hart, Pelosi said “there could be a scenario to that extent.”
Hart didn’t challenge the election result in Iowa courts but instead went to the leadership of the House asking them to throw out Miller-Meeks.
At her weekly press conference Thursday, Pelosi tried to justify her effort.
“If I wanted to be unfair, I wouldn’t have seated the Republican from Iowa, because that was my right on the opening day. I would have just said, ‘You’re not seated,’ and that would have been my right, as speaker, to do,” she said.
PELOSI: It is my right to seat and unseat any member of Congress I wantpic.twitter.com/habrc0k7cP
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) March 25, 2021
However, political science professor Eddie Zipperer says Pelosi needs to reread Supreme Court precedent, PJ Media reported.
“SCOTUS says a seat cannot be denied to a duly elected Rep who meets the constitutional qualifications,” he said.
While the Constitution gives to Congress the authority to be “the judge of the … qualifications of its own members,” it also requires a two-thirds majority vote to expel a member.
PJ Media noted that under the Federal Contested Elections Act, the House Administration Committee “may recommend, and the House may approve by a simple majority vote, a decision affirming the right of the contestee to the seat, may seat the contestant, or find that neither party is entitled to be finally seated and declare a vacancy.”
The law does give the House speaker authority to unilaterally seat or unseat a duly elected member of Congress.
Some political analysts have noted the irony of the Democrats seeking to overturn a state-certified election after demonizing President Trump and anyone who challenges the 2020 presidential vote.
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