by Guy Page
Second Amendment Rights activist Jim Sexton of Essex Junction today presented a written petition to Washington County Sheriff Sam Hill to remove from the State House and charge 16 Vermont senators who – Sexton says – “have committed perjury by violating their oaths of office” by supporting gun control legislation.
Sporting a t-shirt saying “Ban Idiots, Not Guns,” Sexton met Hill outside the sheriff’s office in Montpelier, with 2020 legislative candidates Brock Coderre of Waterbury and Charles Wilson as witnesses. Vermont Daily was the only press in attendance. Hill said charging and removing lawmakers is not his decision, but he did say he would forward the petition to Attorney General TJ Donovan. Sexton respectfully disagreed, saying his research shows that the county sheriff is responsible for law enforcement in Washington County. He made a similar request last year to Capitol police and the State House Sergeant-at-Arms, and was told it wasn’t their responsibility, either.
Sexton’s petition reads in part:
“We demand the following people be removed from the State House and charged with the crime of perjury as specifically outlined in Vermont S 56, the Oath of Allegiance; Oath of Office” – and names Senators Baruth, Balint, Bray, Campion, Chittenden, Clarkson, Cummings, Hardy, Hooker, Lyons, McCormack, Pearson, Perchlik, Ram, Sirotkin, and White.
By their legislative votes these senators have violated the Vermont Constitution’s Article 11 on warrantless searches and seizures, and Article 16, which provides for the right to bear arms, the petition says. “They have also violated the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution which provides the right to bear arms will not be infringed,” he said.
Last fall, Sexton launched a write-in for governor, due to his dissatisfaction with Gov. Phil Scott’s support of legalized abortion and gun control legislation, he said. Earlier this year Sexton helped start a petition drive to unseat Scott as a member of the Vermont Republican Party, for the reasons listed above and for advocating for the resignation of then-Pres. Donald Trump. The petition gathered more than 2000 signatures, despite almost universal non-support from party leaders.
Sexton hosts a pro-gun rights Facebook page called “Jim’s AR-14,” a reference to then candidate Joe Biden’s March, 2020 misnaming of the popular AR-15 firearm.
If Sexton’s one-person campaign to have the senators removed and charged fails, it raises the question: how can citizens discipline or remove legislators for failing their oath?
Lawsuit? The Legislature last year gave third-party organizations the right to sue the State if it fails to meet carbon emissions mandates. Many lawmakers have been seeking legislation to limit the legal immunity of police from lawsuits. However, the Legislature has shown no interest in infringing on its own, Constitutionally-protected immunity.
Censure/removal by other lawmakers? Former Franklin County Sen. Norm McAllister (R) was booted from the Legislature in 2016 after being arrested at the State House in 2015 for soliciting prostitution – although he was ultimately not found guilty in criminal court.
Ballot box? At present the only guaranteed remedy seems to be voter choice at the polls. However, critics of election reform fear the “For The People” bill before Congress and supported by Secretary of State Jim Condos could actually reduce election integrity.