As a fifth woman came forward on Nov. 13 to accuse Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore of sexual misconduct, Senate Republicans scrambled to find ways to block Moore from office should he win the special election on Dec. 12.
Beverly Young Nelson, Moore's latest accuser, alleged that he attacked her behind the restaurant where she worked when she was 16, and he was 30. Nelson is the fifth woman to accuse Moore of making sexual advances toward her when she was a teenager, and the first to allege assault.
Faced with the prospect that Moore could be elected, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner told reporters Tuesday that if Moore wins, “the Senate should vote to expel him because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
Other Moore opponents have called on the Senate to simply deny him his seat pending an investigation of his behavior and charges against him.
Moore's favorability continues to decline. According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Tuesday, fully 60 percent of voters nationwide said that he should withdraw from the election. Only 16 percent said Moore should continue his campaign, and 24 percent were undecided.
A just-completed Gravis Marketing survey among likely voters statewide showed Moore edging Democrat Doug Jones by a margin of 48 to 46 percent, with 6 percent undecided. (The poll was conducted on Friday, a day after four women came out with charges against Moore’s and before Nelson came forward.)
But keeping Moore out of the Senate would be difficult to imagine. Expulsion, which requires the votes of two-thirds of sitting senators, has been applied only to 15 senators in history. Fourteen were expelled for supporting the Confederate rebellion against the U.S. in 1861-62.
Refusal of the full chamber to seat someone with a certificate of election and meeting the constitutional requirements for office has not been done in 70 years. The last person to be denied a seat was Sen. Theodore G. Bilbo, D-Miss., virulent racist and anti-Semite and an admitted member of the Ku Klux Klan.
When Republicans assumed control of the Senate in January, Bilbo (who had won his third term the previous November) was refused the oath of office on the grounds of inciting violence against blacks as well as alleged bribery and corruption in office. (Bilbo’s fellow Southern Democrats began disrupting Senate business with filibusters, but the issue was never resolved since the Mississippian died in August of that year.)
The most recent judicial view on seating of elected officials was the Powell v. McCormack decision in 1969. The Supreme Court rule overturned the 1967 refusal of the House to seat Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, D-N.Y. Powell had been denied his seat on charges of misusing his office, but the high court ruled that he met the constitutional requirements of office — age, residence in his state, and a certificate of election — and could be elected.
The court also said that the House could punish Powell as they saw fit, and lawmakers denied him his 25 years of seniority and garnished his salary to pay back money they said he owed.
“The Senate could come up with any reason it wants for refusal to seat Moore or to expel him if he takes office,” former U.S. Senate historian Donald Ritchie told Newsmax, “but it’s going to be very, very difficult.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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