Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah Democratic leader referenced a Latter-day Saint apostle's words on the Constitution while calling out Republicans for censuring two of their own for their participation in the congressional committee investigating last year's attack on the U.S. Capitol.
House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said in a lengthy Twitter thread Sunday that he wonders how elected officials should respond to the Republican National Committee resolution censuring GOP Rep. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for, as the resolution described it, "participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse."
Cheney, of Wyoming, and Kinzinger, of Illinois, are the only Republicans on the bipartisan House panel looking into the causes of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol incursion during Congress' counting of states' 2020 electoral votes for president.
King said the attempt to overturn the results was "simply an authoritarian attack on our Constitution. How does the GOP censure not officially support that attack?"
The party representatives at the RNC meeting in Salt Lake City overwhelmingly adopted the censure resolution last Friday. Shortly afterward, party leaders clarified that the "persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse" language in the resolution wasn't meant to apply to Capitol rioters.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement that Cheney and Kinzinger "chose to join Nancy Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol."
King said as an elected official he and all state officers are required to support, obey and defend the federal and state constitutions.
"How should electeds respond to this RNC resolution that condemns those trying to get to the bottom of the 1/6 attack," he wrote.
"In my time at the Capitol, I have heard many of my colleagues talk about the need to defend our imperiled Constitution. Yet I have been struck by the lack of voices in our legislature condemning 1/6 and assorted other authoritarian attempts to overthrow the Constitution."
Two days ago the Republican National Committee met in Salt Lake City for its winter meeting. It formally censured Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the two GOP members of the House committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol, for serving on that committee. 1/— Rep. Brian S. King (@RepBrianKing) February 6, 2022
King said he appreciated Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney for speaking out. Romney, who voted to convict former President Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection, said "shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol."
"I join him in condemning a political party that opposes the search for the truth about 1/6," King said.
In his tweets, King said the tradition of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that God inspired the Constitution and that it plays a key role in the future of the world.
"The LDS Church teaches its members to defend the Constitution against enemies both external and internal," he wrote.
King said he believes it was not a coincidence that President Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the church's First Presidency, delivered a talk titled "Defending Our Divinely Inspired Constitution" at the faith's first general conference after the Capitol riot.
"The LDS Church teaches its members to defend the Constitution against enemies both external and internal," King, a Latter-day Saint, wrote.
In delivering his remarks, President Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court justice and law clerk in the U.S. Supreme Court, said that he did not speak for any political party or other group. He said he spoke for the Constitution, which he has studied for more than 60 years.
"Our belief in divine inspiration gives Latter-day Saints a unique responsibility to uphold and defend the United States Constitution and principles of constitutionalism wherever we live," President Oaks said.
Whether people are church members or not, the talk is worth reading, King said. "And its point that the Constitution must be upheld and defended is especially important to internalize if, like me, you are bound by oath of office to do exactly that."
Mormon Women for Ethical Government, a nonpartisan group focused on accountability, transparency and justice in government, supports the efforts of the House investigative panel.
Censuring Cheney and Kinzinger for standing for traditionally conservative interests, such as accountability and adherence to law, should only be seen as a "political act and shouldn't carry moral weight," said Megan Woods, the group's senior director of nonpartisanship.
"We appreciate the way that they are modeling loyalty to the Constitution independent of political leaning or policy objectives," she said of Cheney and Kinzinger.
Mormon Women's co-executive director Jennifer Walker Thomas said violence fractures trust and it should go without saying that it is never a legitimate form of political discourse.
"It is shortsighted to assume that political violence is controllable or that it will lead to positive or peaceful outcomes," she said. "If we want a peaceful society, we can have no tolerance for either of our major political parties promoting violence."
King said the Republican Party is working to sabotage bipartisan efforts to defend our Constitution from "authoritarian takeover."
As a Utah legislator, he said he condemns attempts to set aside the free and fair 2020 presidential election. He also said he supports the hard work Republicans, Democrats, those from other parties and unaffiliated voters are doing to gather facts about the Jan. 6 attack.
"Finally," King wrote, "we must oppose the effort of any group or individual to terminate or interfere with an investigation that allows our country to get to the bottom of the 1/6 attack on our country and Constitution."