I am reminded of Leo Donofrio’s memorable comment: “you can’t save the Constitution by destroying it,” when reading Orly Taitz’ latest lawsuit in California that attempts to get a court to meddle with Congress certifying the 2012 election, something that the Constitution mandates that they do. Taitz calls Congress a “government agency” and names it as a defendant in her Grinols et al. v. Electoral College et al. lawsuit.
As I said in a comment on another thread: “I suppose in the history of whack-job lawsuits, someone has tried to sue Congress before” and it turns out that I was correct that Taitz is not the only lawyer that thinks outside the box, way outside the box. Another is Mario Apuzzo who filed a lawsuit against Congress on behalf of Charles Kerchner in 2009, Kerchner v. Obama. Indeed, not only did Kerchner sue the House, the Senate and the Vice President (then Dick Cheney) he even sued The United States itself! That lawsuit was ultimately dismissed but I wondered if anything in that process would shed light on the instant case suing Congress.
In the Kerchner case, the United States Attorney replied on behalf of Defendants. In its motion to dismiss, the Government argued that the Congressional Defendants had immunity. The government argued sovereign immunity (you can read the Wikipedia article for more on that). In addition, the Government argued “absolute immunity” for the Vice President under U.S. Const. art. I, § 6, cl. 1, noting that the courts have broadly interpreted the debate immunity to preclude the courts from interfering with the function of Congress. In dismissing Kerchner, Judge Simandle did not reach the immunity argument, dismissing rather for lack of standing; however, he did cite one other reason that the suit could not be brought—the “political question doctrine”—writing:
…it appears that Plaintiffs have raised claims that are likewise barred under the “political question doctrine” as a question demonstrably committed to a coordinate political department. See Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 216 (1962). The Constitution commits the selection of the President to the Electoral College in Article II, Section 1, as amended by the Twelfth Amendment and the Twentieth Amendment, Section 3. The Constitution’s provisions are specific in the procedures to be followed by the Electors in voting and the President of the Senate and of Congress in counting the electoral votes. Further, the Twentieth Amendment, Section 3, also provides the process to be followed if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, in which case the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified. None of these provisions evince an intention for judicial reviewability of these political choices.
So this brief nostalgic look back at another lawsuit from 2009 informs us that the Grinols case is: