On Booting Cruz and Hawley From the Senate

There have been a few calls for the expulsion of Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley from the Senate, or even their arrest. When other members of Congress are pushing for it, it’s important to consider what precedent this would set. I should of course note that questioning whether two Senators should be expelled or pushed out (which seems to have occurred three times in the last thirty years) is different from suggesting that what happened is okay.

Tim Murphy of Mother Jones argues that what Hawley and Cruz did was unprecedented.

A week earlier, Hawley had been the first senator to announce that he would object to the Electoral College votes from a handful of key states. Not to be outdone in their loyalty to Donald Trump, more than a dozen colleagues (led by Ted Cruz) followed suit, turning a staid tradition into an unprecedented constitutional challenge.

It is worth noting that each time when Republicans have won the White House in the 21st Century, some Democratic members of Congress made similar futile efforts, and weren’t removed for it or tried for sedition. So there has to be some kind of neutral principle to establish what makes those attempts legal maneuvers from members of Congress in good standing with their party, and Ted Cruz’s bullshit call for a congressional audit worthy of arrest and/ or removal from the Senate.

One can argue that the 2000 election was much closer than the 2020 election, but there were similar objections in 2016, in which the margin in the tipping point states was about as close.

Another argument I’ve heard is that it’s okay to challenge the results when the winner of the electoral college is not the same as the winner of the popular vote. That’s not a standard in American election law, but it also doesn’t explain the challenge in 2004, which also marks the one time the Democratic members of the House were joined by a senator. I am unaware of any push to expel Barbara Boxer from the Senate.

The differences should be articulated, so that we can establish neutral standards going forward. These standards will of course be used to go after Democrats as well in future controversies that we can’t really predict at the moment, as well as other Republicans. We can also look at what neutral standards were violated by Cruz and Hawley, but not by earlier Democrats, to determine if Cruz and Hawley should be booted.

Some of the people calling for Cruz and Hawley’s removal seem to be under the impression they knew that rioters were going to come to the capitol. If the investigations demonstrate that they were aware of this, that becomes a very different situation, but there isn’t much evidence of this.

One argument is that Cruz and Hawley should be expelled because they advocated for a bullshit cause that idiots later used to justify actions that led to five deaths, including that of a police officer. This standard would suggest that any politician who advocates for a weak position should be held responsible if anyone’s killed in an ensuing protest. It would require some way of ascertaining which positions are so unreasonable that no one can be expected to advocate for it, but I don’t mind it as a standard.

Another point of view is that Cruz and Hawley should be removed because they still voted to challenge the results after the capitol was attacked. At that point, they had to know that people were responding to their views much more seriously than they did to Barbara Boxer in 2005.

One perspective is that politicians should accept the results of elections. Stacey Abrams is certainly an individual in good standing within the Democratic party, and noteworthy for not actually conceding.


A subtext of arguments is that when Democrats protest the results of an election it’s because voters weren’t counted, and that when Republicans protest, it’s because questionable voters were counted. This would be an argument to articulate clearly and unambiguously, to establish why one perspective is legitimate and another is not.

Whatever standard you use has to take into account existing law, and apply to all political figures. If heated rhetoric is not allowed from Republicans, than it’s not allowed from Democratic candidates. If Republicans are to be jailed because protesters rioted, Democratic officials can be held responsible if left-wing protests go bad. The law should not make a distinction between what is acceptable rhetoric or behavior because of what side protesters are on.

There are plenty of members of congress who show piss poor judgment and should not hold the office they do. The main way to get rid of them is to vote them out, or in some extreme cases, pressure them to resign (something that has only happened three times in my lifetime.) Whether Cruz should lose to Beto O’Rourke or Hawley should lose to Jason Kander in the next election is a separate question from whether they should be convicted or expelled.

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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