Rep. Lauren Boebert delivers a speech on the floor of the U.S. House minutes before an insurrection overran the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (C-SPAN)
At about 1:55 p.m. on Jan. 6, the freshman representative from Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, Lauren Boebert, stepped to the microphone on the floor of the U.S. House. It was her third full day as a congresswoman, and it was her first floor speech.
The speech is certain to endure as one of the key moments in Boebert’s career as an elected official, and it’s the most important she has yet delivered. Given the circumstances of the House session, the congresswoman’s message, and the subsequent breach of the Capitol by violent Trump-supporting extremists just moments later, Boebert’s words that afternoon, which occupied a space of 4 minutes and 14 seconds, warrant detailed scrutiny. Following is a transcript of Boebert’s Jan. 6 speech, along with commentary.
Members of the House and Senate were in the Capitol that day for a joint session to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election, which President Joe Biden won. Some members, including Boebert, had claimed without evidence that the election was fraudulent, and they said they intended to object to electoral votes from certain battleground states that went for Biden. During the joint session, a group of Republicans, led in the House by Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar and including Boebert, as well as Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn, objected to the electoral votes submitted by Arizona. This move prompted House members and senators to break off into their respective chambers for debate.
It was during this period that Boebert stepped to the podium.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledges Boebert’s turn to address the chamber.
PELOSI: For what purpose does the gentlewoman from Colorado seek recognition?
BOEBERT: I rise to support the objection.
PELOSI: All right, the gentlewoman is recognized for five minutes.
BOEBERT: Thank you, madam speaker. And to ease everyone’s nerve I want you to all know that I am not here to challenge anyone to a duel like Alexander Hamilton or Aaron Burr (weak chuckles are heard in the chamber, including from Pelosi.)
Right off Boebert misfires. It was a bizarre way for a congresswoman to introduce herself to her colleagues. The reference was to Boebert’s well-deserved reputation as a Second Amendment zealot and the attention she had received in Washington for wanting to carry a gun, which she makes a show of wearing everywhere else, on the House floor, where firearms are prohibited. But it’s doubtful this failed attempt at humor put anyone’s nerves at ease, and now that we know a violent mob was, as she spoke, overrunning Capitol defenses, soon to be storming through the building chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” the image of a Founding Father shot dead seems one she would have been wise to avoid.
Madam speaker, my primary objection to the counting of the electoral votes of the state of Arizona is based on the Constitution and the direction of state legislatures through state law as spelled out in the following two clauses: Article 2, Section 1, Clause 2 states in part, and I quote, “Each state shall appoint in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.” And, the election clause of the Constitution provides state legislatures with explicit authority to prescribe, and I quote, “the Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections,” end quote.
Boebert managed to accurately quote a couple of passages from the U.S. Constitution. But that’s where the reliability of her legal analysis ends.
For more than three decades, Arizona law set by the state Legislature has required that voter registration end no later than 29 days before an election. This is clear. It is law. Unless amended by the state Legislature. This is the way it needs to be carried out.
In Arizona the deadline for voter registration for the 2020 presidential election was October 5, 2020. Using COVID as a reasoning, Democrats filed a lawsuit to extend this deadline by 18 days. And an injunction was made by an Obama-appointed judge preventing the Arizona secretary of state from enforcing the constitutional deadline set by the state Legislature. As a result of this frivolous, partisan lawsuit, 10 extra days were added via judicial fiat to allow voter registration. These 10 days were added after voting had already begun. This is completely indefensible. You cannot change the rules of an election while it is underway and expect the American people to trust it.
The lawsuit Boebert is referring to here is Mi Familia Vota; Arizona Coalition for Change; Ulises Ventura v. Katie Hobbs. Hobbs is the Democratic Arizona secretary of state. The plaintiffs were involved with nonprofit efforts to register voters, which became harder under pandemic-related restrictions. They sued Hobbs in federal court, which was persuaded to preclude Hobbs from enforcing Arizona’s Oct. 5 voter registration deadline and extend it to Oct. 23. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently stayed the lower court’s decision, but not retroactively, meaning the extension lasted only 10 days instead of 18 days.
Now, in this 10-day period, at least 30,000 new voters registered to vote in Arizona. All of these votes are unconstitutional. It does not matter if they voted for President Trump or if they voted for Vice President Biden. They did not register in time for the election. The law states October 5th.
While the appeals court stated several reasons that it, like Boebert, disagreed with the voter registration deadline extension, none of those reasons aligned with Boebert’s claim of unconstitutionality. They mostly had to do with timing and process. In fact, in its decision, the court said, “There may well be cases where a state election rule is so constitutionally problematic because of events such as a pandemic or natural disaster that a federal court must intervene, even shortly before an election.” During the 10-day extension, Hobbs’ office reported that 35,000 Arizonans registered to vote. More of them were Republicans than Democrats. And Boebert implies the figure represents people who voted, but it doesn’t. It’s only the number of people who registered to vote during that period.
Either we have laws or we do not. If we allow state election laws as set forth by the state Legislature to be ignored and manipulated on a whim … (disturbance in the chamber, calls for order from other lawmakers, Pelosi chuckles into the microphone) … partisan lawsuits, unelected bureaucrats, un- … (disturbance, calls for order from other lawmakers, gavel)
PELOSI: The House will be in order.
The source of the disturbance is unclear from the C-SPAN video, but it appears to be in reaction to Boebert’s speech.
BOEBERT: If we allow state election laws as set forth by state legislatures to be ignored and manipulated on the whims of partisan lawsuits, unlawful procedures and arbitrary rules, then our constitutional republic will cease to exist.
This line of objection coming from Boebert was, to put it mildly, disingenuous. Since Nov. 3, Boebert had been one of the blind-loyalty Trump partisans who propagated the lie that the election was stolen. “I am very tired of hearing about fixing election fraud going forward. An election just happened. There was fraud. Fix that one first!” she tweeted. The thrust of her message to constituents had little to do with alleged violations of constitutional provisions. It simply fostered doubt about election integrity, even though she, like everyone else who spread such disinformation about the vote, produced no credible evidence to support her claims.
The oath that I took this past Sunday to defend and support the Constitution makes it necessary for me to object to this travesty. Otherwise the laws passed by the legislative branch merely become suggestions to be accepted, rejected or manipulated by those who did not pass them.
Madam speaker, I have constituents outside this building right now. I promised my voters to be their voice.
This is the line that will stick with Boebert for the rest of her life. At the very moment it was uttered, the constituents to which she referred were part of a violent mob and were overrunning the last barricades separating them from the Capitol walls. At about 2:11 p.m., they broke into the building. Though it was perhaps unintentional, Boebert, who in trying to overturn a free and fair election already was engaged in seditious behavior, explicitly declared her allegiance with insurrectionists.
In this branch of government, in which I now serve, it is my separate but equal obligation to weigh in on this election and object.
Boebert’s use of the phrase “separate but equal” here was not just a gaffe but a loaded one. It’s likely she meant “coequal obligation,” since it’s often said that the three branches of American government are coequal. However, the notion of “separate but equal” comes from the legal doctrine affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, which justified racial segregation and is often cited as among the Court’s worst decisions. Given her unyielding devotion to a racist president, her outspoken opposition to last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, and her association with the Three Percenters militia group, which according to the ADL targets Muslims and immigrants, Boebert’s confusion is especially revealing.
Are we not a government of, by, and for the people? They know that this election is not right and as their representative I am sent here to represent them. I will not allow the people to be ignored.
Whether she realized it or not, Boebert alluded here to the Gettysburg Address, which Lincoln delivered in the middle of a war started by enemies of the people’s government. Yet here she is claiming to speak on behalf of partisans who that very moment were violently attacking the people’s government in a temple of democracy. It demonstrates either exquisite cynicism or swaggering ignorance.
Madam speaker, it is my duty under the U.S. Constitution to object to the counting of the electoral votes of the state of Arizona. The members who stand here today and accept the results of this concentrated, coordinated, partisan effort by Democrats, where every fraudulent vote cancels out the vote of an honest American, has sided with the extremist left.
Boebert finally comes clean with a glancing reference to her real purpose — to cancel the will of American voters by spreading the lie that the election was fraudulent.
The United States Congress needs to make an informed decision and that starts with objection.
I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Brian Mast (bemused laughter from Pelosi, scattered applause).
On the morning of Jan. 6, Boebert tweeted, “Today is 1776.” The 1776 theme was understood by Trump supporters who gathered that morning just blocks away from the Capitol to hear the president speak as a call to resist the transfer of power to Biden, and, as even school children know, the year is shorthand for a war of rebellion. During his speech, the president similarly used inflammatory language, making it all but inevitable that the angry crowd would be inspired to action.
Today is 1776.
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) January 6, 2021
At Trump’s direction, his supporters marched to the Capitol, where they turned violent. Five people died during the attack that ensued. Later that evening, after all she had done to help incite the most grievous assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812, Boebert voted to object to electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. Her betrayal of her oath was thereby certified.
Boebert is a seditionist, and she has committed an unforgivable violation of the public trust. Every day she purports to represent Colorado in the hallowed House chamber, which she so desecrated in her first days as a congresswoman, is an insult to her home state. The speech she delivered on Jan. 6, a day that forever will be remembered as among the darkest in the country’s history, testifies to her role in dimming the lights on American democracy.
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