Democratic state Representative Brian Sims shared a few truths with his Republican colleagues on the floor of the Pennsylvania House, truths that they deemed so “inflammatory” they literally cut his mic – twice – and ordered his comments stricken from the official record.
What did they find so “inflammatory”?
Rep. Sims reminded House GOP lawmakers their caucus is “100% white” and “70% male,” as Business Insider reported.
Sims, who is running to become the state’s next Lt. Governor, was blasting Republican lawmakers for pursuing their “grossly predictably misogynistic agenda.”
GOP lawmakers, in a state that ranks fifth in total coronavirus deaths as the pandemic continues, were debating legislation that would require women to treat miscarriages as the death of a human being, forcing them to bury or cremate the fetal remains.
Calling it a “distraction debating a bill that will never become law,” Sims slammed the Republican side of the aisle.
“But this feels normal for far too many of us. This is just another act in a political theater that has plagued this chamber for far too long. We are a legislature that has met more to remove mask mandates, strip executive emergency powers, and overturn free and fair elections than we have to make strategic investments in Pennsylvania’s women, children and families.”
“Lastly, Mr Speaker, it is not lost on me and I’m sure it’s not lost on many of the members here today that this legislation is just one more unnecessary overreach in a grossly predictably misogynistic agenda, an agenda pursued by a House, by a party that is 100% white in a chamber that is 70% male.”
His remarks were met with anger.
“Oh, your boos mean nothing,” Rep. Sims responded. “I’ve seen what you cheer for.”
The House Republican Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff objected, saying, “I believe these comments are inflammatory for our members. And to this esteemed chamber. We have tried to give latitude on this issue, both yesterday and today, but I will not have our members impugned or insulted or this kind of behavior on this floor.”
“Are you not 100% white?” Sims demanded. “100% white.”
He was told he was “out of order.”
“100% white, 70% male,” Sims continued.
“Mr Speaker, turn off his mic. I wish it be strucken [sic] from the record,” the presiding representative declared.
📽️ @PAHouseGOP leader has meltdown on House floor after it was raised that his caucus is 100% white in a chamber that is 70% male while pushing bills that hurt women’s health, especially Black and brown women.
He had it stricken from the record then they shut down the floor. pic.twitter.com/xy1qwI8eYG
— J.J. Abbott (@jjabbott) June 9, 2021
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Trump Judicial Nominee Breaks Into Tears Over Scathing Finding He’s ‘Arrogant, Lazy’ and May Not Be Fair to LGBT People
Lawrence J.C. VanDyke openly wept on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee as he was confronted with a blistering review from the American Bar Association, which found that he was not qualified to serve on the federal courts after having been nominated by President Donald Trump.
The ABA, which can’t officially block nominees but whose recommendations are seen as carrying substantial weight, wrote of VanDyke:
Mr. VanDyke’s accomplishments are offset by the assessments of interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules. There was a theme that the nominee lacks humility, has an “entitlement” temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.
It also said some people interviewed in the assessment of VanDyke worried that he would not be “fair to
persons who are gay, lesbian, or otherwise part of the LGBTQ community.”
When confronted with these findings, which had been made public the previous night, VanDyke became emotional in the middle of the hearing and began crying. His face turned red.
Lawrence VanDyke brought to tears because of the shameful and false accusation by the @ABAesq that he holds animus toward the LGBT community. Thank you to @SenHawleyPress for highlighting this injustice. The ABA has lost all credibility for trying to destroy this good man’s life. pic.twitter.com/4ARyHvw3Zu
— Gregory T. Angelo (@gregorytangelo) October 30, 2019
“I do not believe that,” VanDyke said, referring to criticism of his views of LGBT people, according to CNN. “It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God.” He added that he thinks “they should all be treated with dignity and respect.”
VanDyke isn’t the first of Trump’s nominees to get strong pushback from the ABA. Law.com reported that nine of Trump’s nominees have been rated as “not qualified” for the federal bench by the organization. At least four of these nominees have been successfully confirmed nevertheless, while others have been blocked. The ABA’s rating process has been criticized by conservatives, who say the organization is biased against nominees who aren’t liberals.
Writing for the conservative National Review, Thomas Jipping wrote that of the ABA: “[It’s] reasonable to ask whether this consistently liberal organization can really be objective and non-political in its ratings of judicial nominees.” He called the devastating letter about VanDyke “another self-inflicted wound” for the organization.
Orin Kerr, a University of California law professor, noted on Twitter: “I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this before, which I say realizing that some will say it shows how unqualified the [nominee] is, while others will say it shows how biased the ABA is. I don’t know which is true. But either way, it’s a remarkable letter.”
In the hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) noted Wednesday that there have been many criticisms of the ABA review process, some of which he agrees with. In particular, he acknowledged that the ABA’s conclusions are opaque, and it doesn’t provide the background documentation of its investigations.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chair of the committee, said he agreed with these criticisms.
“We actually have something we can do about that,” Whitehouse said. “I’ve been on this committee awhile. ABA letters are always this way. They don’t give you the underlying backup. But what we do have here is some pretty darned serious concerns. And to just laugh them off, I don’t think is appropriate. I think we have a responsibility here. … We can resolve this by bringing in the ABA folks and letting them explain what the basis was for these charges.”
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