Pro tip from Biden judicial nominee: The Senate and the Electoral College are "anti-democratic"

How many people want to sign up for Dale Ho’s TED Talk on how to win friends and influence people? Or even on civics? Our colleagues at Townhall offer this clip from the man nominated by Joe Biden to the federal bench in an undated public event. Ho’s confirmation is already in trouble over allegations of misleading the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it’s likely not improved by Ho’s absurd declaration that the Senate is “undemocratic.” Actually, scratch that — Ho calls them not just “undemocratic” but “anti-democratic.”

Say, you know what branch of government is actually “undemocratic,” right?

It seems odd for an activist for “democracy” to seek out a lifetime sinecure as an unelected federal judge. If Ho doesn’t like the lack of direct democracy in either the Senate or the Electoral College, why would that not apply to the federal judiciary as well? It does in many states, which either elect judges or appoint them first and then hold regular elections on whether to retain them. If Ho really wants to stand up for democracy, shouldn’t he have refused this appointment and demanded that Joe Biden instead push for a constitutional amendment to require elections for the federal judiciary?

Speaking of which, a federal judge swears to uphold the Constitution. Is that a “democratic” institution? If the Senate and Electoral College aren’t — both of which are representative of election results — then the Constitution doesn’t meet the Ho standard for democracy, either. We can put that even more simply, since the Constitution establishes both the Senate and Electoral College. If those aren’t “democratic,” then neither is the Constitution that establishes them.

This is even dumber than it looks, though. We aren’t a pure democracy, nor have we ever pretended to be one, but both of the institutions Ho criticizes derive from elections by the people. Ho’s gripe is more that the Senate and Electoral College aren’t representational, but they are — they represent the states, as designed in the Constitution. The 17th Amendment muddied that distinction by requiring direct popular elections of senators, but Congress remains a meld of two forms of representation: one of the people in the House, and one of the states in the Senate.

Plenty of progressive activists resent that kind of representational-republic design.  The more intellectually dishonest of them pretend not to know how or why our system of government was created. That’s fine for activists, but should we appoint such intellectually bankrupt and/or dishonest activists to the judiciary? To enforce the Constitution to which they show so much hostility?

This isn’t the only dumb comment that will come back to haunt Ho. Six years ago, Ho compared voter-ID laws to chemotherapy:

Ho, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) voting rights project, made the comment while speaking on voter ID requirements during a 2015 event in Wisconsin.

“We always have to weigh the costs against the methods, so let me talk about for a second about what you asked — that question about does this enhance the integrity of our elections, right? Obviously, we all believe that election integrity is important, right?” Ho said.

“Obviously, all of us are against voter fraud, right?” he continued. “The question that I think we have to ask ourselves is whether or not the mechanism that we’re using to try to prevent this problem is appropriate to the task. I’m against cancer, but I don’t think everyone in this room should get chemotherapy.”

Were “all of us” in that room against voter fraud? Checking ID is such a basic step for fraud prevention in any context that opposing it more or less makes one appear unconcerned about fraud, at the very least. That’s why voters support voter-ID laws by overwhelming margins, in every demographic to boot. Showing an ID is not at all analogous to chemotherapy, except to radical nutcases.

One has to wonder how Ho got nominated in the first place, especially by a president who insists he represents a return to norms and the strengthening of institutions. Expect Republicans in and out of the Senate to ask that question. A lot.

Jazz Shaw May 24, 2022 7:58 AM ET