Via the Washington Post:
Rep. Rodney Garcia, a state lawmaker in Montana, told a roomful of Republicans he believes the U.S. Constitution says socialists can be jailed or shot simply for being socialists. Garcia initially made the statement at an election event, then he reiterated it to a Billings Gazette reporter.
The Republican Party in Montana swiftly rebuked him.
Garcia’s inflammatory assertion first came Friday night, after former interior secretary Ryan Zinke gave a speech at the party event in Helena. According to reporting from the Gazette, Garcia said he was concerned there were socialists “everywhere” in Billings, which he represents in House District 52.
Billings Gazette reporter Holly Michels later asked Garcia to clarify his remarks, and the lawmaker doubled down.
“So actually in the Constitution of the United States, [if you] are found guilty of being a socialist member you either go to prison or are shot,” Garcia told Michels.
Garcia was not able to say where he finds that in the Constitution, the Billings Gazette reported.
Anthony Johnstone, a law professor at the University of Montana, told The Washington Post that “nothing in the Constitution of the United States authorizes the government to punish socialists or anyone else on the basis of their political beliefs.” In fact, the First Amendment prohibits punishing political speech, and the Constitution of Montana “expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of political beliefs,” Johnstone said. All state lawmakers swear an oath to uphold those doctrines.
Rep. Garcia can’t help it if he’s a stone-cold idiot, but the people in Montana should know better than to give him a job where he actually has power over the lives of them, much less access to sharp objects.
By the way, the Constitution starts off with “We The People,” which sounds pretty damn socialist.