Rep. Anne Donahue is having a sad.
According to VTDigger’s excellent Final Reading, Donahue believes she’s the victim of political retaliation.
During the campaign, Donahue was the primary public voice of the anti-abortion movement seeking to defeat Article 22, the reproductive rights amendment. It struck me as a bit risky. After all, Donahue has long been a respected presence, known for her capacity for hard work and her tenacious activism on mental health issues. She’s served on two committees — Human Services and Health Care — that touch on those issues, which was a recognition of her skills and expertise. She was even elevated to vice chair of Health Care, a notable achievement for a member of the minority caucus.
But now she finds herself shuffled back to Human Services and stripped of committee leadership. And she’s crying foul. She believes the change is a simple matter of political retaliation for her strong opposition to Article 22.
Maybe she’s right. I don’t know. But if she is right, so what?
House Speaker Jill Krowinski denies the charge. With a large number of new representatives, there had to be a lot of changes in committee assignments. And it’s a multifaceted process; the Speaker has to weigh partisan balance, relevant experience, making sure each committee has geographic and gender diversity. She says the Donahue Shuffle was just one more consequence of a difficult assignment process.
But let’s say it was deliberate retaliation for Donahue’s very public opposition to Article 22. That’s garden-variety politics and nothing more. Donahue should take a gander at what the new Republican leadership in the U.S. House has in store for prominent Democrats. There’s talk of people like Adam Schiff and Jamie Raskin being shut out of committee assignments entirely and being subject to investigation by uber-partisan Republican-led committees.
Now, that’s politics. It’s in a completely different universe than moving a lawmaker from one relevant committee to another.
Donahue may find that this is the least of her problems. I wouldn’t be surprised if she finds that her influence has dwindled. Not because of leadership perfidy, but because of a natural reaction by Democrats to a Republican who took a strong partisan position on a crucial issue.
Donahue framed it as an attack on free speech.
Republicans really need to brush up on the First Amendment, which bars the government from limiting your right to free speech. Donahue’s speech is not at all limited. She has no Constitutional right to serve on a preferred committee or occupy a leadership position. She will still have the same free speech rights as every other lawmaker.
After years of being well respected by Democratic leadership, Donahue has suffered a very slight setback. She should suck it up and get back to work.