With nearly two-thirds of House Republicans supporting Texas’s lawsuit seeking to overturn the election in the U.S. Supreme Court, a Democratic House member on Friday called the Republicans “traitors” and urged the House’s Democratic leadership not to seat the Republicans when the 117th Congress convenes in January.
The congressman, Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey, cited a Reconstruction-era passage of the 14th Amendment disqualifying elected officials who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.
“The actions of any of our colleagues to demolish democracy, regardless of party affiliation, must be repudiated in the strongest possible terms,” Mr. Pascrell said in his letter. “The fate of our democracy depends on us.”
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, known as the disqualification clause, was originally enacted to limit the influence of former Confederates in the Reconstruction era. It has been used occasionally since. Victor L. Berger, a member of the Socialist Party of America, was repeatedly prevented from taking his seat by a House resolution after winning election in 1919 because he had been convicted under the Espionage Act.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democrats on Friday that Republicans were “subverting the Constitution by their reckless and fruitless assault on our democracy.”
As of Friday afternoon, 126 Republican members of the House, including the minority leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy, had signed a brief in support of a Hail-Mary lawsuit, filed by Texas on Tuesday, seeking to overturn President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victories in the battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. If the suit succeeded, it would give President Trump enough electoral votes to win re-election. The Supreme Court was expected to act on the suit as soon as Friday.
Mr. McCarthy did not immediately comment on why he joined the brief supporting the suit, which was filed by a pro-Trump attorney general in Texas, but he had defended the effort on Thursday, saying, “The president has a right for every legal challenge to be heard and he has a right to go to the Supreme Court.”
The vast majority of the signatories won re-election last month in the same balloting that they now allege was illegitimate.
The extraordinary legal measure underscored how fully most Republicans have embraced the baseless claims of election fraud championed by President Trump, and exposed divisions in the party between those willing to contemplate subverting the will of voters and those who are not.
Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking Republican, has signed on, as has Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the head of the party’s campaign committee.
Republicans who have declined to join the suit include Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 leader; Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; and Senator Lamar Alexander, a retiring Republican of Tennessee, who said he was having a “hard time figuring out the basis” for the suit.
“Republicans believe that states are in charge of elections, and Texas is a big state but I don’t know exactly why it has a right to tell four other states how to run their elections,” he said in a taped interview on “Meet the Press” released Friday.
But the sheer number of House Republicans who signed the brief — despite the absence of evidence of widespread election fraud — indicated the icy reception Mr. Biden is likely to face from the opposing party when he takes office, and the challenges he will face advancing his agenda.