Last month when I took office, like every other elected official in the country, I swore to uphold the Constitution. Because law in the United States derives from the Constitution, I was swearing to follow the rule of law. In light of the recent events in Washington, D.C., it’s important to understand what the rule of law means.
Our laws provide processes and standards for making decisions. To follow the rule of law means to use those processes and standards when making decisions. For the presidential election, the Constitution delegates to each state authority for conducting elections and certifying election results, specifically which electors will represent their state in the Electoral College.
The courts provide an avenue for appeal, in cases where people believe that election procedures are not followed. Claimants before a court must demonstrate that they have standing to file a claim, that is, that they have been harmed in some way, and to provide evidence to support their claim.
This election was especially contentious, with many claims of election fraud or irregularity. Numerous court cases were filed disputing election results. Every one of those claims was quickly thrown out, either because the claimants failed to show how they had been harmed or because they provided no evidence supporting their claims. In the end, every state certified its slate of electors. The conclusion is clear: election procedures and standards in every state were followed. In short, the rule of law had been followed, both in process and based on the evidence.
All that remained before January 6th was the formality of counting the electors supporting each presidential candidate. Yet, the President, a handful of Senators, and a large group of Representatives continued to claim that fraudulent votes had been cast, or that allegations of fraud needed to be investigated. What they were claiming—without evidence–was that the Constitutional process had not been followed and that the results should be overturned. They were, simply put, claiming that the rule of law should be overturned.
The President invited his supporters to Washington and encouraged them to go to the Capitol and challenge the results. We know the outcome. Some Senators and Representatives challenged the certified results from two states, but did so with no evidence supporting their claims. It’s clear that the President and these Senators and Representatives were trying to overturn the rule of law by overturning certified election results. They must all be held to account.
As for me, with Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris being sworn into office, I am celebrating because the Constitution and the rule of law have been upheld.
[City of Grass Valley Disclaimer: Bob Branstrom is a member of the Grass Valley City Council. The opinion is the personal viewpoint of the author and does not reflect any official City view.]