A Biden judicial nominee is making headlines after a video from 2018 surfaced in which he makes the claim that the United States Senate and Electoral College are "anti-democratic."
Dale Ho, President Joe Biden's nominee for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, has previously been accused by GOP senators of showing "open contempt for the Constitution." Video of a speech he gave at the 2018 National Civic Leadership Training Summit is likely to affirm that charge in the minds of Senate Republicans.
"We had obviously lots of practices that are anti-democratic, that entrench in some ways minority rule in this country, and I'm talking about things like, you know, the Senate, the Electoral College, and the maldistribution of political power that results from those institutions," said Ho, who is the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's voting rights project.
He also said that the United States should change its laws to make "voting easier" and that "long-standing barriers" such as "felon disenfranchisement" strip "the right to vote from people because of a criminal conviction."
Ho, who was nominated for a lifetime appointment to an unelected office, came under fire from Republicans during his confirmation hearing earlier this month for a series of controversial statements he made on social media during the Trump administration.
Republicans brought up several tweets he posted criticizing GOP lawmakers including Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), each of whom serve on the Judiciary Committee and are overseeing his nomination.
“I very much regret the tone that I’ve taken on social media from time to time, particularly if it’s given anyone the impression that I wouldn’t be impartial,” Ho told lawmakers at the hearing.
Lee made a point of bringing up a tweet in which Ho suggested Republicans would use a Supreme Court majority to stay in power if the "Electoral College, Senate malapportionment and extreme gerrymandering" were not enough.
Ho said he was referring to news reports in 2020 of states potentially appointing their own presidential electors to overturn the election, but Lee said his tweet showed "open contempt for the Constitution" and was disqualifying for a potential federal judge.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also grilled Ho about writings in which Ho said a colleague once asked him if he works as a voting rights lawyer because he wants to help people or because "you hate conservatives." Ho said the point of that question was to highlight how "anger" can be a "tremendous source of power."
"I was relaying a joke that someone else had told, the point of which was that that kind of temporary sugar rush from being angry at someone — while it can feel powerful in a moment — it’s not the kind of thing that is sustaining for a human being, in the long run, that at the end of the day, if you want to do good work in the world, it has to come from a different place, a place of love for your fellow person," Ho said.
Ho has made other controversial statements. Earlier this week, Fox News reported comments Ho made in 2015 while speaking about voter identification requirements at an event in Wisconsin. Ho compared voter ID to "chemotherapy."
"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 at the event.
"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."
Ho is supported for confirmation to the federal bench by progressive groups and has a glowing endorsement from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Ho was also strongly supported by Democratic lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, with Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) commenting that Ho's passion should not be mistaken for anger.