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Watch the Joint Session to Count the Electors
Well, this will be a short-lived post, but the Joint Session to Count the Electors has started. I was going to watch this anyway, because I did so much work explaining how it might work in the course of my legal horror story, "And The War Came." But now the President's attempts to steal the election from President-Elect Biden have made this thing quite a big deal, so lots of folks are interested.
As always, the best place to watch Congressional floor action is on C-SPAN: https://www.c-span.org/video/?507663-1/joint-session-congress-counting-electoral-college-ballots
An excellent overview of the process from the Congressional Research Service is here: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32717.pdf
The session started one minute ago. Please enjoy! Or dread. Either way.
UPDATE 12:13 PM:
The Joint Session to Count the Electoral Votes has opened. First thing that happens is Pelosi clears most of the floor for social distancing reasons. Someone (I missed who) raises a point of parliamentary inquiry asking how they can raise points of parliamentary inquiry and points of order if they're stuck in the gallery. Pence gavels him down for being out of order. This is basically right and indirectly answers the question: members generally *cannot* raise points of parliamentary inquiry or points of order during this session. There is a possible exception. It is believed that a WRITTEN point of order signed by a Representative and a Senator can be considered, but only through a burdensome process. However, this has never been done.
UPDATE 12:18 PM:
And it has begun: the electoral votes from Arizona for Biden have received a formal objection. This is the third formal objection since the modern law was imposed in 1887. (The other two were in 1969 and 2005.) The objection -- written and signed by both a Representative and a Senator -- contends that the electoral votes of Arizona were not "regularly given". Correctly, it does not go into detail. (That's saved for the debate floor.)
The Joint Session is dissolved temporarily. Both houses will now debate the objection (separately, in their own chambers) for
one hour two hours (sorry, brain fart). The Arizona electors will be rejected only if BOTH houses agree to reject them.
Note that, while Democrats won control of the Senate last night, their winners have not yet taken office, so Republicans still have narrow control of the Senate. This does not really matter, since there's no way this objection will win support from moderates, textualists, pro-Constitution members of the Senate. Still worth mentioning.
UPDATE: 1:28 PM:
After a predictable debate along predictable lines, violence has disrupted the electoral count. Facts are unclear, but both houses are now in recess, reportedly due to protestors breaching the building. Rumor that Vice President Pence has been evacuated.
Needless to say, as in the case of protestors destroying important symbols like statues, protesters trying to derail our basic republican institutions should be met by all necessary force, including (if necessary) lethal force.
UPDATE 2:35 PM:
Look, if you're still following my blog at this point, stop. It's chaos. There's an ongoing riot, capitol police has lost control, the White House is reportedly refusing to deploy National Guard (which seems like it meets the legal definition of seditious conspiracy? but maybe we'll sort that out later), and this blog is not the place to get your news. Feel free to make use of one of my favorite Twitter lists for tracking current political events, CheckmarkPolitics.