After the Electoral College cast its votes and affirmed his victory, on Monday, Joe Biden declared that “democracy prevailed” and “faith in our institutions held.” And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally congratulated Biden as President-elect and Kamala Harris as Vice-President-elect. On January 6th, a joint session of Congress will officially count the votes. The result should be more than assured. But last week brought the shock of seeing seventeen Republican state attorneys general and more than half of House Republicans sign amicus briefs supporting Texas’s unsuccessful bid to have the Supreme Court prevent four states’ electoral votes from being cast. That astounding show of loyalty to Trump made it imaginable that Republican lawmakers, having failed to convince the Court to overturn the election result, would use Congress to attempt it. On December 13th, Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama, announced his intent to dispute Biden’s victory by challenging the votes of five swing states in the January congressional session. The group he will lead in the effort so far includes Representatives-elect Barry Moore, from Alabama, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, from Georgia.
This year’s election and post-election period have felt unprecedented in so many ways, but there are long-standing rules for challenging electoral votes for President on the floor of Congress. The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution provides that the Vice-President, as 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.”