The Republican Party's supposed outrage over accused child molester Roy Moore joining the Senate appears to be short-lived, as even the supposedly moderate Susan Collins prepares to embrace him.
In the wake of the initial allegations that Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore stalked, assaulted, and molested teenage girls, a number of Republicans expressed outrage, and many claimed to be studying ways to prevent him from serving in the Senate.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, even floated the idea of expelling Moore from the Senate, a process in which a senator can be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the chamber.
Now, however, Republicans appear to be over their short-lived outrage and getting used to the idea of welcoming an alleged child molester into their caucus. And that includes the supposedly moderate Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
On Thursday, Collins told reporters at the Christian Science Monitor, “If he is elected, there are no grounds under the Constitution to fail to seat him.”
Collins may be technically correct on that point. The Supreme Court decided in Powell v. McCormack that if a senator-elect meets age and citizenship requirements, he must be seated. But the court also ruled in that same decision that the Senate absolutely can expel morally repugnant members after they are seated.
Collins, however, cast doubt on the idea of doing even that.
“If the voters of the state, fully knowing all of these allegations, nevertheless choose to elect Roy Moore, is it appropriate for the Senate to expel him?” she asked. “I think that’s a really difficult question, and I don’t know the answer to that yet.”
Other people might worry whether it is “appropriate” for a man who was banned from a shopping mall and the YMCA for chasing teenage girls to be sitting in the upper chamber of the United States Congress. But that seems like less of a concern to Collins.
The decision to expel Moore would come from the senators of the other 49 states who represent people polls show overwhelmingly would want Moore expelled if he wins.
Of course, there is a simple way Alabama voters can take this decision away from morally wavering senators like Collins, by electing Doug Jones, the candidate who is not an accused child molester. But even Republicans who have claimed objection to Moore have not encouraged voters to do that. And if Moore does win in December, it is clear that Americans can no longer trust Senate Republicans to make the right choice for the integrity of the chamber — and the country.