GOP Lawmaker: The U.S. Constitution Calls For Shooting Or Imprisoning Socialist
Montana state Rep. Rodney Garcia believes the U.S. Constitution calls for jailing or shooting Americans who identify as socialist, according to the Billings Gazette — and he isn’t joking.
The Republican lawmaker wandered into the strange territory during a Q and A session with former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at a state party gathering on Friday.
Garcia stated that he was concerned by the rise of socialism in the U.S. and with socialists “entering our government” and being “everywhere” in his district. The lawmaker then went on to say that the Constitution says socialists should either be shot or put in jail.
Zinke responded with non sequitur, the publication reported, saying, “You know, Montana’s a great state.”
Asked by a reporter over the weekend to clarify his comments, Garcia doubled down on the notion that socialists are taking over his state and should be dealt with accordingly.
“So actually in the Constitution of the United States (if) they are found guilty of being a socialist member you either go to prison or are shot,” Garcia said, though he could not point to the exact location in the Constitution where such a remedy is prescribed.
Garcia was also asked if he thought shooting or jailing socialists was a fair response. He replied yes.
“They’re enemies of the free state,” the Republican said. “What do we do with our enemies in war? In Vietnam, (Afghanistan), all those. What did we do?”
“I agree with my Constitution,” Garcia added. “That’s what makes us free. We’re not a democracy, we’re a Republic Constitution.”
The lawmaker’s comments were not well-received by Montana’s Republican Party, however.
University of Montana law professor Anthony Johnstone told The Washington Post that nowhere in the Constitution is the government authorized to punish someone based solely on their political beliefs. Johnstone also noted that "the First Amendment prohibits punishing political speech, and the Constitution of Montana 'expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of political beliefs,'” adding that "all state lawmakers swear an oath to uphold those doctrines."
In a statement, the state’s GOP executive director, Spencer Merwin, told the Billings Gazette: “The Montana Republican Party wholeheartedly condemns the comment that was made and under no circumstance is violence against someone with opposing political views acceptable. It’s disappointing that this isolated incident took away from the weekend’s events which showcased the strength of our statewide candidates and the importance of the upcoming election.”
Republicans in general have taken to the socialist scare, with even President Donald Trump regularly decrying Democrats as “radical socialists.” But the Billings Gazette helpfully noted that socialism “is defined as theories about collective or government ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution” — a far cry from Democratic policy proposals that would expand the federal government’s role in education and healthcare.