Expelling Democrats for Israel Statements Is a “Dangerous” Game: Lawyer

Calls by Republicans to expel certain Democrats from Congress over their comments on Israel are a “dangerous” path, said lawyer and legal analyst Jonathan Turley.

On October 7, Hamas led the deadliest Palestinian militant attack on Israel in history, after which Israel launched its heaviest airstrikes ever on Gaza in response. As of Monday, over 1,400 people have died in Israel, in addition to more than 5,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Associated Press.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was “at war” and had stopped deliveries of food, fuel, electricity and medicine to Gaza. Israel has called up 360,000 army reservists to prepare for a likely ground offensive in the area, which is estimated to be home to around 2.3 million people.

The situation has sparked a wave of divided reactions around the world, with public figures of all stripes expressing support for Israel, Gaza or both. Some reactions from Democratic lawmakers in the US drew sharp criticism from their Republican colleagues, who accused them of being anti-Israel. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said Israel’s supporters were on the side of the “occupation,” and Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington called Israel a “racist state.” Despite opposition from Republicans, such criticism of the Israeli government, its human rights record and its specific treatment of Palestinians in Gaza is widespread, even among the Israeli people themselves.

Still, some Republicans, like Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, have expressed support for expelling these Democrats from Congress. Turley, a constitutional law expert who has often aligned himself with conservative causes in the past, wrote in an op-ed on his personal website on Sunday, calling the possibility of expelling these lawmakers based on their comments “the ultimate manifestation” of the current polarizing political climate.

“Expulsion and disqualification have become fashionable in Washington as members of both parties seek to bar opponents from voting or holding office,” Turley wrote. “It is the ultimate manifestation of our age of anger, in which expressing opposing views is now viewed as disqualifying actions from holding office.”

Turley, a Fox News contributor, has a history of supporting conservative political causes. In 2014, he represented Republicans in a lawsuit against the Obama administration, arguing that it had overstepped its authority in implementing certain parts of the Affordable Care Act. He also testified against the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump, arguing that evidence of his misdeeds was insufficient.

Comments from Jonathan Turley expelling Democrats from Israel
Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley wrote Sunday that the possibility of expelling Democrats from Congress over certain Israeli statements was a “dangerous” path.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Sunday, Turley further wrote that the idea of ​​expelling certain Democrats over their Israel statements was “a dangerous, slippery slope” and argued that any impact on them should be left to voters.

“Expulsion and disqualification calls are both based on the same view that political support for extreme or controversial positions among members of Congress should not be tolerated,” Turley continued. “It is a dangerous, delicate path when politicians declare certain views to be incompatible with holding elected office…Free speech is often the first casualty in a time of anger. There is a solution for those you believe are unworthy of office. It arises every two years when citizens go to the polls to elect their representatives.”

Newsweek I emailed Scott’s office for comment.