AUSTIN â€” A national lawyers group on Monday called for professional licensing bodies to investigate East Texas congressman Louie Gohmert and his attorneys for what it called a â€œself-evident breachâ€ of ethics rules for lawyers when they sued unsuccessfully last week to try to force Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Lawyers Defending American Democracy, a nonpartisan group that says it has the support of 5,000 lawyers across the country, said in a statement that Gohmert, Dallas lawyer William L. â€œLewisâ€ Sessions and unnamed other lawyers should be sanctioned for egregious conduct.
They brought a â€œspeciousâ€ lawsuit that was â€œpremised on an absurd reading of the 12th Amendment,â€ which directs the vice president as the U.S. Senateâ€™s presiding officer to open vote certifications from the various states, the group said.
Spokeswomen for Gohmert did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Sessions did not immediately respond to queries by phone and email.
They and other plaintiffs and lawyers involved in the suit invoked the 12th Amendment: â€œThe President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.â€
Lawyers Defending American Democracy said the amendment doesnâ€™t allow a vice president to pick which electoral votes to count for a given state.
â€œNot a single word in that amendment, or in any other, gives the vice president any role whatsoever in choosing which votes to count let alone the extraordinary, unilateral power to select who the next president should be, regardless of the outcome of votes in the various states,â€ the group said.
Also, Gohmert, Sessions and others bringing the suit offered no â€œreference to case law or any other authority for this outrageous and indefensible argument,â€ the group said.
Late Friday, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle, an appointee of President Donald Trump from Gohmertâ€™s hometown of Tyler, threw out the lawsuit.
Kernodle ruled that Gohmert and other plaintiffs â€” including the GOP chairwoman in Arizona and that stateâ€™s defeated slate of Republican electors â€” lacked standing. Late Saturday, a federal appeals court upheld the ruling.
Pence had argued the suit shouldnâ€™t be aimed at him in a 14-page filing by Justice Department attorneys.
â€œA suit to establish that the Vice President has discretion over the count, filed against the Vice President, is a walking legal contradiction,â€ the brief said.
The lawsuit challenges the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which dictates the vice presidentâ€™s role in announcing the results as a ceremonial one.
Lawyers Defending American Democracy was formed in the past two years to challenge what it considers President Trumpâ€™s â€œassault on the rule of law,â€ according to its website.
Last month, it called for the state bar of Texas to investigate state Attorney General Ken Paxton and for disciplinary bodies in other states to consider sanctions against 17 of Paxtonâ€™s counterparts in red states who sued in the Supreme Court in a vain attempt to overturn President-elect Joe Bidenâ€™s win in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The group said discipline also should be considered against any lawyers among the 126 GOP members of the U.S. House who supported the Paxton-led suit.