Republicans and their allies at Fox News are doing their best the downgrade and belittle the importance of the hearings of the House 1/6 committee. Democrats are curiously muted about the demonstrations against Supreme Court Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh and the attempted murder of the latter. Leaders of both parties should show much more outrage at both the 1/6 riot and the threats to the independence of the Supreme Court and the safety of its Justices.
Republicans and Fox News commentators are dismissing the work of the 1/6 committee as being the product of a politically motivated witch hunt producing no information of great significance. GOP lawmakers say the violence of 1/6 shouldn’t have happened, but it was merely a short-lived riot which did far less damage than riots prompted by the Black Lives Matter and Antifa movements in 2020. They say there are for more serious issues on which Congress should be spending its time—inflation and especially the soaring price of gasoline, the immigration crisis at the border, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and so forth. The 1/6 hearings are designed merely to make the GOP look bad in an attempt to reduce Democratic losses in the midterms this November. Fox News commentators have proudly said they won’t go along with the mainstream media and give the 1/6 committee any free publicity.
But Democrats claim the riot was nothing less than an insurrection against the government of the United States, the purpose of which was to keep President Trump in power by blocking the peaceful counting of electoral votes which would otherwise produce a victory for Joe Biden. They further argue that Trump himself and his advisors had been planning the insurrection for weeks and instigated it with Trump’s overheated and irresponsible rhetoric. The purpose of the hearings is to expose his alleged perfidy and that of his toadies.
However, Democrats have been much more quiet over the political turmoil following the leaking of a draft opinion which, if adopted by the Supreme Court, would overturn Roe v. Wade. Granted, the peaceful (so far) demonstrations before the houses of Justices Kavanaugh and Barret do not rise to the level of the 1/6 riot. Yet they nonetheless seem aimed at forestalling another governmental process which, like the counting of electoral votes in Congress, should be conducted peacefully—the Supreme Court’s issuance of a decision and its supporting and dissenting opinions. And the admission by a man now thankfully in custody that he had come to Kavanaugh’s home to murder him for his putative anti-abortion and pro-gun opinions must be taken with the utmost seriousness. One wonders if there’s a connection between the murder attempt and a warning issued by Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer who, speaking at a protest demonstration before the Supreme Court in 2020, said, in anticipation of anti-abortion rights decisions, “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price! You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions!”
So what party should leaders do?
Republicans should not dismiss out of hand the 1/6 committee and its conclusions until after all the conclusions have been published. And they should recognize that whatever conclusions are reached, the issue—the maintenance of governmental processes designed to acknowledge the outcome of a presidential election and facilitate the smooth transition of power from one administration to the next–is indeed more important than the price of gasoline or immigration policy. They should also recognize that the violence done on 1/6/21, even if far less than the violence of the riots in 2020, is completely unacceptable, and whoever is determined—through due process of law—to be responsible must be held accountable before the law. After all, no Republican would tolerate an attempt by Democrats to block the acknowledgment of a Republican presidential victory.
Likewise, Democrats must recognize that if the courts are to function effectively, they must be protected from the sort of political pressure and intimidation which seem to be the goal of the protestors harassing Justices Barrett and Kavanaugh. Not only must Kavanaugh’s alleged would-be murderer be prosecuted with his guilt (or innocence) to be determined through due process of law, but the law must be brought to bear on the other protesters as well. Federal prosecutors must determine whether protests outside of specific justices’ homes (as opposed to protests in the public square) are illegal and, if so, act accordingly. After all, what if the justices being picketed outside their own homes included supporters of federally protected abortion rights such as Sonia Sotomayor or Elena Kagan, while the protestors were anti-abortion activists.
Above all, both parties should recommit themselves to the rule of law, with no attempts at violence or other forms of intimidation, whether electoral votes are being counted or judges and justices are making decisions, or any other governmental function is being performed. Threats to the peaceful and legal operations of governments may well be common throughout much of the world. They should have no place in America.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.