Democratic lawmakers say insurgents should not be allowed to run for government

Democratic lawmakers say insurgents should not be allowed to run for government

Democratic lawmakers in a handful of states are trying to send a message two years after the vicious attack on the US Capitol: Those who engage in an attempt to overthrow the government should not be allowed to run it.

New York, Connecticut and Virginia are among the states where proposed legislation would bar anyone convicted of participating in an insurgency from holding public office or a position of public trust, such as becoming a police officer.

Although the bills vary in scope, their purpose is similar.

“If you tried to overthrow our government through violent means, you should not be part of this under any circumstances,” said New York State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal.

He is sponsoring a bill that would bar those convicted of engaging in an insurrection or rebellion against the United States from holding civilian office, meaning they could not be a judge or member of the ‘Legislative Assembly. Hoylman-Sigal said he introduced the bill this year because he saw more people involved in the riot in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, run for office last year.


He described the assault on the Capitol as “a true assault on the foundations of our free and fair democracy and the values ​​that allow it to continue.”

A Virginia lawmaker introduced a bill this month, on the second anniversary of the Capitol Riot, that would bar anyone convicted of a crime related to an attempted insurrection or riot from holding positions of public trust – including those involving policy-making, law enforcement, security, education or health.

A Connecticut bill would bar those convicted of sedition, rebellion, insurrection or a crime related to any of these acts from running for or holding public office. Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, who introduced the measure, told The Associated Press that he wants the legislation to eventually ban them from holding state or municipal jobs.

The legislation in the states comes after the House committee’s final report on Jan. 6, which found that Donald Trump was criminally engaged in a conspiracy to overturn the legal results of the 2020 presidential election he lost and did not take action to prevent his supporters from attacking the Capitol. .


The committee’s recently completed work may have provided another springboard for lawmakers to act and come up with ways to hold people accountable, said Victoria Bassetti, senior policy adviser at the United States United Democracy Center, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for fair elections.

Some Republicans say the legislation is unnecessary.

In New York, Republican Congressman Will Barclay, the Minority Leader, called the bill a “political statement”, saying it was “more political than it was a concern about politics public”.

He said existing rules already apply to people in certain positions who are convicted of crimes and that these laws “should be sufficient”.

The legislation is another example of how the Capitol Riot has become a political Rorschach test in the country.

Many Republicans refuse to see the attempt to violently halt presidential certification – which was based on lies that the 2020 election was stolen – as an insurrection, while a strong majority in the party continues to believe the president Joe Biden was not legitimately elected. Even college students learn different versions of the attack, depending on whether they live in more conservative or liberal parts of the nation.

The opposing realities were highlighted this month in Pennsylvania during a heated exchange between two lawmakers.

In a committee hearing, Republican Senator Cris Dush slammed her gavel as she ruled Democratic Senator Amanda Cappelletti out of order after she described the US Capitol on Jan. 6 as “the site of an insurrection.”

“The insurrection, no one has been charged with this,” Dush said. “There hasn’t been a single charge against any of these people as insurgents. In this committee, we don’t use that term.”

Insurgents try to break through a police barrier on January 6, 2021 at the Capitol in Washington. Lawmakers are trying to prevent insurgents from running for office.
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Nearly 1,000 people were charged with federal crimes during the Capitol riot, about half of whom pleaded guilty to riot-related charges and more than three dozen were convicted at trial. Charges range from misdemeanors for those accused of illegally entering the Capitol but not participating in the violence to felony seditious conspiracy for members of far-right extremist groups accused of conspiring to prevent the transfer of presidential power.

In November, two leaders of the extremist group Oath Keepers were convicted of seditious conspiracy in what prosecutors said was a week-long conspiracy to use force to keep Trump in power. Leaders of the Proud Boys and other members of the Oath Keepers are currently on trial for sedition, which can result in up to 20 years behind bars.

Weeks after the committee exchange, Cappelletti told The Associated Press that it’s important to make sure people understand the attack on the Capitol was an insurrection.


“These are factually correct things,” she said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t disagree politically on politics or other things, but we can acknowledge that it happened and start to understand how we’re moving forward to work together to strengthen at public confidence again.”

Dush remained convinced that what unfolded on January 6 was not an insurrection.

“If there had been some sort of plot for an insurrection, it would have escalated fairly quickly after the government regained control,” he said in a telephone interview.

There have been a few previous attempts to prevent certain officials from running or holding office.

A New Hampshire bill that would have barred anyone taking part in an insurrection or rebellion from holding office in the state died last year.

Also last year, groups filed lawsuits under a rarely cited section of the 14th Amendment dealing with insurrection. They sought to disqualify a handful of members of the United States House from seeking re-election for the events surrounding the Jan. 6 riot.

In New Mexico, a state court in September barred a rural county commissioner from holding public office for participating in the Capitol insurrection. Couy Griffin had previously been convicted in federal court of a misdemeanor for entering the grounds of the Capitol, without entering the building. He was sentenced to 14 days and credited for the time served.


The judge permanently barred Griffin, then elected commissioner of Otero County, from holding federal and local public office.

In West Virginia, a former state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to a felony — civil disorder — for participating in the riot and who has served his sentence, announced earlier this month that he is standing in Congress.

“We really need to get rid of those who would overthrow our government,” said Duff, the Connecticut lawmaker. “There is no place for any of them to be (in) any type of elected or appointed officer.”