During a hearing on Tuesday of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Nancy Mace grilled witness Alejandra Caraballo, who had advocated for violence against Supreme Court Justices, on whether extremist rhetoric on social media is a threat to democracy.
Mace first asked the five witnesses "is rhetoric on social media a problem and a threat to our democracy," to which all five witnesses said yes. Caraballo is a transgender person who teaches at Harvard's Cyberlaw Clinic.
"Do you believe that rhetoric targeting officials with violence for carrying out their constitutional duties is a threat to democracy," Mace asked, to which the five witnesses once again responded with yes.
Mace cited a tweet made by Caraballo on June 25, 2022 encouraging violence against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was targetted by an amateur assassin at his home.
"The 6 justices who overturned Roe should never know peace again. It is our civic duty to accost them every time they are in public. They are pariahs. Since women don’t have their rights, these justices should never have a peaceful moment in public again," Caraballo said.
"I know something about being accosted," Mace said, recounting her own experience. "The night of January 5, I was physically accosted on the streets of DC in Navy Yard by a constituent of mine."
"I fervently blamed rhetoric, rhetoric on social media, rhetoric at public events for being physically accosted. I carry a gun everywhere I go when I am in my district and I’m at home because I know personally that rhetoric has consequences," Mace continued, adding that she had been doxxed, people have trespassed on her property, and she has had to increase her security.
Mace noted another tweet from Caraballo on November 19, 2022, which stated, "It’s so clear that Justice Alito is corrupt and SCOTUS as an institution is compromised. This is not a legitimate court issuing decisions. it’s an organ of the far right that solely follows outcome determinative logic rather than any reasoned jurisprudence."
"So my last question today of Ms. Caraballo, do you stand by these comments, this kind of rhetoric on social media? And do you believe it’s a threat to democracy," Mace asked.
Caraballo, a Clinical Instructor with Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, thanked Mace for "the opportunity to clarify and provide context to my tweets," to which Mace said that these were yes or no questions.
"Do you believe your rhetoric is a threat to democracy when you’re calling to accost a branch of government, the Supreme Court?" Mace asked.
"I don’t believe that’s a correct characterization of my statements," Caraballo began.
"Did you not tweet that, that you thought that the Supreme Court justices should be accosted?" Mace asked.
"What I’m saying is that is not an accurate characterization of my statements," Caraballo said.
The "The Evolution of Anti-Democratic Extremist Groups and the Ongoing Threat to Democracy" hearing on Tuesday was the seventh and final installment of the committee’s hearings on "Confronting White Supremacy."
"White supremacist ideology undergirds the core tenets of other forms of extremism that have become more prominent in recent years, including conspiracy theories like QAnon, the anti-LGBTQI+ movement, and the election denial and anti-government rhetoric that contributed to the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The FBI and DHS have recognized white supremacy as the deadliest domestic terror threat facing the United States," the committee stated.
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