Our U.S. Constitution was tested this week.
As most of South Dakota now knows, on January 6th, I voted to uphold the 2020 election results that were certified, recounted, and audited from various states across the nation.
Like many South Dakotans, I am frustrated with how certain states handle their elections, and in the weeks following the 2020 election, I supported the president’s right to his day in court. Legal challenges were filed in dozens of state and federal courts, but failed to overturn any votes. Despite claims, the evidence was not there.
The Constitution is more important than my personal political views or my political popularity.
There is no constitutional basis for Congress to substitute its judgement for that of the states and the courts. There is only one sentence in the Constitution that addresses Congress’s role on Jan 6. In Article 2, Section 1, Clause 3 the U.S. Constitution states:
“The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted.”
The only person performing an official act is the President of the Senate, who counts the votes. Other than being present, there is no constitutional role for Congress in the January 6 process. I cannot assume powers that are not legally provided to me.
I did not take this decision lightly. I heard from thousands of my fellow statesmen, friends, and long-time political allies. Ultimately, my duty to the Constitution is greater than any political favor voting against it may have provided me. Tough votes such as this one are never easy, and I can only hope this constitutional foundation does not fall on deaf ears.
South Dakotans would raise hell if the Nancy Pelosi-controlled House overturned South Dakota’s election results for President Trump, and I’m grateful we saw no such attempt on January 6. Our founders knew well the grave risks associated with concentrating power in Washington, D.C., especially the power to select our President. They placed that power with the states, and just as I would resolutely defend the results of South Dakota’s elections from federal interference, I cannot overturn the legally certified election results of another state and its voters.