On Wednesday morning, Republicans in the Senate Finance Committee met in a surprise meeting to vote for President Trump’s lead nominees for the departments of Treasury & Health and Human Services. This meeting preceded one day after a boycott from Democrats who were opposed to the nominations.
Democrats are calling this act a violation of finance committee rules due to the long standing requirement that one member of each party must be present during a vote.
This vote falls under the malicious obedience rule of legalism, and therefore can be seen as an act of moral misconduct. Malicious obedience is a type of rule following in which an individual (or group in this case) follows/works around the rules with ill intent. In this scenario, the Republicans who were a part of this vote used the rules, or at least found a way around the rules, in order to achieve their goals.
Both of Trump’s nominees have been under fire for several controversial acts that could be considered illegal. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah defends both the nominees and vote by saying that there are no definitive lines of misconduct, and that the vote was mandatory due to the boycott being an “unprecedented obstruction.”
This vote is unethical because of the way Republicans used their power to take advantage of the rules to elect their nominees. Since this vote was a surprise sprung by the Republican Committee, the vote was swayed and therefore there was no chance for the Democratic side to cast their vote or make any sort of argument.
You could argue that this vote also defies several other rules of legalism, such as blind and negligent obedience. Republicans who blindly participated in the vote because it technically was not breaking the rules are just as guilty as those who sprung the meeting.