Sometimes, debates in legislatures can get a little too heated. The result: a scuffle—or occasionally even a full-blown brawl—breaks out on the floor of the chamber.
This sort of thing tends to occur most frequently in non-Anglophone legislatures and has provided material for satirical TV programs for years. More dramatic slants, especially in Western fiction, often draw upon the assassination of Julius Caesar or Shakespeare's famous dramatization of it. In the United States, this actually was surprisingly common prior to the Civil War and its immediate aftermath, when the issue of slavery (and, later, the treatment of the recently-freed slaves) aroused tempers in the North and South alike.
Compare "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate when the debate is over something mundane or silly.
Note: In Real Life, while actual fist-fights are generally considered a bad thing, regular heated verbal debates (of the kind that only very occasionally erupt into physical violence) are paradoxically a sign of health for a country's democracy. If politicians are fighting in parliament, it means their opinions differ, and differ publicly, and that the legislature is actually a powerful enough institution to be worth fighting over. Dictatorships tend to have very polite, well-mannered legislative bodies (in effect, rubber stamp assemblies). On the other hand, heated debates regularly exploding into open violence can often be a warning sign of a country descending into civil war.
In the past, or in more Cultured Badass settings, more gentlemanly politicians would want to settle offenses by Throwing Down the Gauntlet calling for duels — either to the death or (more often) to the first blood.
- In the fourth volume of the chilean comic Zombies en la Moneda, a member of the Chamber of Deputies brings a zombie to the national congress (locked in a cage), his intention is to show it as evidence that the government has conspired to cover up a Zombie Apocalypse ( which occurred in the first three volumes) It is assumed that the living dead that he brought as evidence is "domesticated" and is no longer dangerous, and then the deputy decides to open the cage...
- Along Came a Spider, much like its source material, includes a case of this, when an ambitious Crusader, Conal Ward, attempts to bring charges against his own Khan, a strong proponent of the rival Warden faction in order to bring him down. His aide, Vlad, was as ardent a Crusader, but was more devoted to his Clan than his cause, and leaked the emails about his plans to his Khan, then held back info that Conal’s nominee for the junior Khan post had been killed in battle less than 2 days earlier. In a rage, Conal declares a trial of grievance against Vlad immediately after the vote, and has his neck broken in the ensuing fight.
- Discussed, or at least alluded to, in The Next Frontier when the Kerbals watch some alien TV and see a number of local worthies get into a very heated debate on what seems to be a political discussion show.
Scott: Well, they do say it's a sign of a healthy democracy...
- Defied in Tales of the Emperasque — expecting the human-eldar negotiations to end this way, Taldeer makes her daughter part of the diplomatic expedition, using the fact that Lofn has a passive calming field around her, which helps to keep everyone's tempers in check.
- 300: Queen Gorgo speaks to the Spartan gerousia (senate), hoping to convince them to send the full army to reinforce King Leonidas. Theron betrays her and mocks her fidelity for having slept with him. Gorgo's rebuttal is a sword to his rib, followed by a ruthless Ironic Echo of the words he used against her during said tryst (which was anything but consensual).
- In The Cat in the Hat, Ms. Kwan turns on the TV and watches a political scuffle; Conrad and Sally turn to each other and say "Taiwanese parliament". Apparently this isn't the first time they've had to watch it.
- Get Smart has the Chief go after the Vice President.
- The Brethren Court in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End erupts into violence between the pirate lords as they attempt to figure out how to survive the British East India Company, much to the astonishment of the newest captain.
Elizabeth Swann: This is madness!
Jack Sparrow: This is politics.
- Joked about in America (The Book) (from The Daily Show).
- The writers quipped that after Preston Brooks beat Charles Sumner half to death on the floor of the Senate (see Real Life), only "wiffle canes" were allowed in the Senate. They also claim that, after going down, Sumner retaliated with the Sumner Triple Suplex, thus retaining his title.
- In a later article about the Army-McCarthy hearings, the "have you no decency?" exchange was met with "Yes, but I believe I left it on your mother's nightstand." Then out came the wiffle canes.
- In The Court Of The Air, physical duels between politicians are apparently a standard practice in Jackels' Parliament, being conducted one-on-one with batons called "debating sticks" when reconciliation by other means proves unfeasible. An area of the parliamentary meeting hall is set aside for this purpose.
- There's a passing mention in Honor Harrington that the San Martin legislative process centers around "debates, arguments, shouting matches and occasional fistfights".
- Robert Harris's Imperium trilogy is a series of historical novels about the life of Cicero and the collapse of the Roman Republic. So naturally, the third book, Dictator, includes the assassination of Caesar. Harris exercises Artistic License – History and places Cicero at the scene.
- In H. H. Munro (Saki)'s "The Oversight", a character references the violence that had come to be seen as characteristic of the Austro-Hungarian Parliament (See also Real Life, below):
...not to my dying day shall I forget last year's upheaval over the Suffragette question. Laura Henniseed left the house in a state of speechless indignation, but before she had reached that state she had used language that would not have been tolerated in the Austrian Reichsrath.
- Star Trek:
- In Star Trek: Destiny, when President Bacco calls the ambassadors from the major galactic powers together for an emergency conference, Klingon ambassador K'mtok and Romulan ambassador Kalavak end up fighting. After a series of accusations and insults regarding events in prior novels (particularly in Star Trek: Articles of the Federation), the two begin to physically scuffle, until separated by Federation security.
- In one of the novels from Star Trek: The Fall, the Parliament Andoria finally boils over as the Andorians' ongoing crisis reaches a climax, and its members start fighting in a mass brawl. At a later point in the story, they pelt the Presider and Speaker with thrown objects after the former issues an unpopular executive decree and the latter seconds his call for an immediate recess.
- Until Every Drop of Blood Is Paid: Due to being elected as Senator, Abraham Lincoln is a witness to Brooks' attack on Sumner, and his attempt to help the former is prevented by Keitt threatening him with a gun. This event causes Lincoln to radicalize in his opposition to slavery.
- Carnival Row: Absalom Breakspear attacks his political rival Ritter Longerbane in Parliament after publicly claiming he's behind his son's abduction.
- News footage of this has been used many times on Have I Got News for You, to the point where when a Guest Host tried to lead the teams to an answer about "something" that had happened in a foreign legislature that week, Paul Merton immediately assumed it had been a fight. The earliest version of the opening credits also showed Michael Heseltine grabbing the mace and threatening the Labour frontbenches with it, which he did in The '80s.
- The It'll Be Alright on the Night election night special from 1997 had a segment that featured footage from Indian, Jordanian, Russian, and South Korean assemblies where various members of those assemblies threw things at each other (India), went after one another individually while buffered by their own "groups" (Jordan), attacked as a group a lone member who was reticent in ceding the microphone (Russia), or attacked the head parliamentarian for something (s)he said (South Korea).
- Napoléon: The Directorate is aware that Napoleon is staging his own coup on 18 Brumaire and attempt to assassinate the General when he tries to talk them down. This is the final straw for Napoleon, who has the entire assembly disbanded.
- One episode of The Rick Mercer Report was broadcast during an NHL lockout. In an attempt to satisfy the audience, Mercer attempted to create a montage of greatest all-time hockey fights. The NHL said no, so he went with Taiwanese political fights instead... with a hockey song still playing underneath.
- The second episode had a full-on fight break out in the senate when Pompey's supporters passed a motion that called on Caesar to return and surrender or be labeled a traitor and condemned to death. Caesar's supporters did not take this well, as might be expected. The fight actually prevented Mark Antony from vetoing the motion, which was what Pompey wanted in the first place (it was supposed to show Caesar he was alone, nothing more).
- The show also depicted Caesar's assassination, of course. And there was a scene where Cicero sent a message to be read in the Senate in his absence, which turned out to be a scathing attack on Antony. Antony demanded that the clerk read out the whole thing and then bludgeoned the poor bastard to death with the scroll.
- Antony previously had pretended he was appalled by this trope, but in his usual insincere but lovable fashion he was only using stealth puns or indirect insults.
"You boys play too rough for me. Knives in the Senate House? I didn't know you had it in you."
- Octavian threatens this when he has a group of centurions barge into the Senate Chamber and unsheathe their swords, to the terror of the Senators. Octavian gets his way, as usual, and no blood is actually spilled.
- "Nobody Speak", by DJ Shadow feat. Run the Jewels, shows two unidentified representatives/leaders of the United States and the United Kingdom start spitting fire at each other out of nowhere, horrifying everyone else at the summit. When the UK rep/PM eventually hits the American in the face, he responds by going after the guy with a broken pencil, sparking a full-out brawl. The cleaning woman is unimpressed.note
- While collecting a comprehensive list would be a bit difficult due to the spottiness of records, a notable number of the Clan Khans of BattleTech have killed each other (in duels) in their Grand Councils, meetings of all the Khans of the Clans. This includes an old man having his throat stepped on until his neck snapped after his status as a warrior was challenged (outcome — not a warrior), someone being shot in the head with a laser (the shooter had said he would fight with only what he had attached to his body, and didn't mention that he had a laser pistol grafted to his arm), and a Khan accentuating his violent policies with a throwing knife to the throat. The Khan who did that last one eventually got beaten to death during a later Grand Council in turn.
- In Broken Worlds, the tabletop game adaptation of the universe of Kill Six Billion Demons, the Hall of the Mighty is where the populace of Ashton (one of the districts of Throne) meets to air arguments, which aleviates the tensions between the different groups who live there. The building is so big and so crowded that there is always at least three to four brawls taking place at a time. An entire guild even formed itself to organize bets on those fights.
- In Exalted, it's mentioned that brawls have broken out in the Deliberative of The Realm. Since the representatives are all Super Soldiers, this is a very bad situation for the merely-mortal guards. And one time after the Deliberative vetoed one decree of hers too many, the Scarlet Empress had the exits blocked, then sent in the army to slaughter all the representatives. The next batch of legislators learned their lesson.
- In Traveller, Emperor Cleon III was known for settling debates in his cabinet by shooting his most vocal opponents. The Imperial Moot created the Right of Assassination in order to get rid of him.
- The Dark Assembly in Disgaea often devolves into fighting... because you can instigate them after they reject one of your proposals. Might Makes Right if you win — your bill passes if you defeat the nays. Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, beating down a Nay vote causes them to like you even less, making them more likely to vote against you the next time you pass a proposal. The Dark Assembly is less about bribes and trying to sway them to your side and more yet another reason for Level Grinding.
- Dragon Age: Origins:
- If you pick Lord Harrowmont as the new king of the dwarfs, Prince Bhelen, and some of his supporters go hostile and try to kill you and the newly crowned king.
- Similarly, a fight breaks out at the Landsmeet when the new ruler is decided, no matter who it is. There can be both a formal duel and an all-out brawl there. Sadly, you cannot nominate your dog as your designated champion in the duel...
- The Commonwealth Provisional Government in Fallout 4 was an early attempt to form a legislature in the post-war Commonwealth. The way Nick Valentine tells it, an Institute Synth murdered every representative in the room, bringing this endeavor to a swift end. Father tells it differently, claiming that the Synth was the only one left after all the other representatives killed each other. Old holotapes corroborate this narrative.
- The opening cinematic for Homefront: The Revolution shows a Times Square news bulletin depicting a brawl in the United States Senate as part of the montage showing how everything went From Bad to Worse and ended up with North Korea controlling America.
- Quest for Glory III is mostly based around gathering two warring groups (a warrior tribe of cattle ranchers, and magical shapeshifting leopard men) for a peace conference in a neutral city. When you finally get the two leaders together, they start talking... for five seconds, before they murder each other.
- The Simpsons had Homer's and Mel Gibson's remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, in which Mr. Smith goes on a random killing spree during his famous filibuster, stabs the evil Senator to death with a flagpole, and even beheads the President after he enters the Senate. The test audiences and executives are horrified.
Mr. Smith: All in favor... say die!
- Ancient Rome: The assassination of Julius Caesar took place at a Senate meeting on 15 March 44 BC held not at the traditional Senate House but at the Theatre of Pompey. His conspirators chose to kill him there precisely because, in an attempt to prevent this trope, senators were forbidden by custom from carrying weapons or bringing in bodyguards, so he would be totally defenseless. (Well—that's the short version. The actual reasoning is actually significantly more complicated and had intricate roots in intricate Roman law, but that's the long and short of it.)
- Austria: The Austro-Hungarian Empire's Reichsrat was the by-word for legislative violence during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, at least in part because the Empire was composed of many different bits of Europe with their own languages and ethnicities, who were not enamored with the German-speaking ruling class (and the Austrians were not pleased with attempts to extend limited autonomy to these other lands in 1897). Some historians argue that Adolf Hitler came to form his negative opinion of parliamentary democracy at least in part from witnessing debates in the Reichsrat. Mark Twain describes a typical scene:
"One night, while the customary pandemonium was crashing and thundering along at its best, a fight broke out. It was a surging, struggling, shoulder-to-shoulder scramble. A great many blows were struck. Twice [Pan-German party leader and racist Georg, Ritter von] Schonerer lifted one of the heavy ministerial fauteuils—some say with one hand—and threatened members of the Majority with it, but it was wrenched away from him; a member hammered [German Radical party leader and racist Karl Hermann] Wolf over the head with the President's bell, and another member choked him; a professor was flung down and belabored with fists and choked; he held up an open penknife as a defense against the blows; it was snatched from him and flung to a distance; it hit a peaceful Christian Socialist who wasn't doing anything, and brought blood from his hand."
- Prime Minister John A. MacDonald (the country's first, considered the father of the country) had a reputation for being an alcoholic with a short temper. He once charged a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons and had to be physically restrained, roaring, "I'll lick him faster than Hell can scorch a feather!"
- Modern Canada, however, gives us the most Canadian version of a legislative fight, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tries to intervene in a scuffle, accidentally hits a woman standing behind him with his elbow, and apologizes profusely.
- Chile sees it happen every now and then, not just among its legislators, but also in the crowd as well. One of the most infamous examples happened when right-wing senator Ivan Moreira attacked left-wing senator Jorge Schaulsohn when he was speaking to some TV reporters, which reached Memetic Mutation levels back then; some of the most recent involve protesting university students and lawmakers struggling with several workers, and some claim it later caused a secretary's miscarriage.
- Colombia: The Colombian Congress is often more at the centre of corruption and immorality scandals than fist fights. However, this trope was taken to its next (and logically deadly) level on September the 8th 1949: Liberal and Conservative politicians engaged in a GUNFIGHT in the House of Representatives. The representative for Boyacá, the Liberal Gustavo Jiménez Jiménez was killed and Jorge Soto del Corral was seriously wounded and died in 1955 as a result of the bullet that hit him.
These were days of high political tension as a year and five months earlier, on April the 9th 1948, nationwide riots had broken out over the assassination of the popular and charismatic Liberal leader, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, and supporters of the Liberal and Conservative parties were killing each other in Colombia's towns as the leaders of both parties blamed each other for not preventing (or orchestrating behind the scenes) such bloodshed.
It all began as a heated debate which began with the Conservative government calling for an early presidential election but ended as an exchange of personal insults between congressmen, some of whom were not only armed but also drunk. Liberal representative Julio Roberto Salazar Ferro insulted his Conservative colleague Carlos del Castillo Isaza in the form of questioning the authenticity of his surname, to which Salazar Ferro responded by questioning his status as legitimate son.
Faced with such an insult, Jiménez tried to draw his gun to shoot Del Castillo, who was drunk, but the latter was quicker and fired first. More than 100 shots followed, killing Jiménez and wounding fellow Liberal Jorge Soto del Corral, who died of his wounds in 1955. Conservatives Ricardo Silva Valdivieso and Amadeo Rodríguez were also wounded.
Although Del Castillo and Rodríguez were investigated as alleged instigators, no one was ever convicted of the attack.
- The European Parliament, despite being a by-word for a legislative body no one cares about, occasionally has heated debates that spill into violence:
- In 1988, during a visit to the Parliament by Pope John Paul II, Northern Irish MEP Ian Paisley, a hard-right Loyalist and Free Presbyterian minister, denounced him as The Antichrist, causing the German and very Catholic MEP Otto von Habsburg to hit him.note
- In December 1997, during a debate on support to the tobacco industry, Freddy Blak of Denmark insinuated that Raúl Rosado Fernandes of Portugal received money from tobacco lobbyists, pissing him off enough to give Blak a black eye and trying to strangle him.
- Greece: This brawl is the result of putting two opposing extremist politicians, namely a neo-fascist and a Communist, next to each other in an environment as tense as a country in the midst of a deep financial crisis, with one of the world's biggest economic blocs bearing down on them.
- Hong Kong: In contrast to the Mainland's rather quiet National People's Congress (albeit a rubber stamp at that), Hong Kong's Legislative Assembly (called Legco) was just as infamous as Taiwan's legislature in fist-fights. Part of it was due to opposition anti-Beijing activists trying to stop pro-Beijing politicians' attempts to limit the autonomy Hong Kong has under China.
- Hungary: In 1912, István Tisza, President of the House of Representatives, used police force to remove numerous opposition representatives from the House, because they wouldn't stop obstructing it. A few days later, representative Gyula Kovács went into the House, jumped off the journalists' gallery, shouted "There is still a member of the opposition here!", and fired three shots at Tisza, but missed him. He then turned the gun on himself but survived with a permanent head injury. After Kovács was carried out, Tisza continued the session.
- India itself is no stranger to legislative violence and brawls:
- This 1997 incident in Uttar Pradesh became a huge free-for-all when a bill to have the federal government directly control the state was being debated. Starting out as a shouting match, it soon turned into a floor-wide slugfest when members hurled chairs, microphone stands, and shoes at each other. 45 people were injured in the mayhem.
- In January 1988, a riot broke out in the Tamil Nadu state assembly over who should be the chief minister. It ended when police stormed the legislature and beat up everybody with their batons. On top of that, the state was placed under direct federal control for a year.
- As if that wasn't enough, a second legislative riot broke out in March 1989 when the opposition parties tried to stall a hearing on the state budget. During the fistfight, one legislator attempted to disrobe a female colleague, another had his sunglasses broken, while the budget bill itself was torn up.
- Japan: In September 2015, a debate over significant changes to Japan's pacifist military policy saw the opposition try to steal the committee chair's microphone away, leading to a chamber-wide scuffle.
- Jordan: In September 2013, a member of the Jordanian parliament fired upon another with an AK-47.
- Lebanon: This 2011 brawl was in response to an anti-Syrian MP calling Syrian president Bashar al-Assad a liar, which caused a pro-Syrian MP to attack him with a chair.
- Philippines: This happened to the then-Senator Antonio Trillanes IV when in 2016, he turned off the microphone of his fellow Senator Alan Peter Cayetano during the heated Senate hearing on Duterte's controversial war on drugs and then in 2017, nearly got into a fistfight with Senator Miguel Zubiri after his resolution to investigate on the Bureau of Immigration bribery scandal was rejected.
- The Mexican Chamber of Deputies, now that it actually has power for a change, occasionally devolves into an out-and-out brawl.
- Russia: This was fairly common in the Duma in The '90s, if only because every now and then an economic minister would have to report that oodles of money had been "lost" in various bad investments. Vladimir Putin more or less put a stop to that, partly because his party includes a healthy mix of military veterans and wrestling/boxing champions.
- South Africa: Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, architect of apartheid, was stabbed to death in Parliament in 1966 by Dimitri Tsafendas, a Communist parliamentary courier. They called the courier deranged, but he had kind of an odd background (his father was white and his mother was mixed-race, which meant that he was legally white—and was in fact denied a request to be reclassified as "Coloured" (i.e. mixed-race) when he asked for it—but still looked "not white" and suffered a lot of discrimination) which may have been part of his motivation.note He was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia and a tapeworm, though an official 2018 report considers this basically arse-covering by the government of the day to hide the fact that the courier kinda had a point (i.e. racism is bad and Verwoerd was a racist who established the most insidious form of institutionalised racism ever seen in South Africa).
- South Korea's Parliament trails only Taiwan in its number of legislative brawls. Part of this may stem from a law that Parliament members cannot be arrested during a debate, which was designed to solve a different problem (namely, authoritarian Presidents arresting opponents before critical votes).
- One memorable brawl started with members of one party locking a door to a room they were meeting in, and ended with the door reduced to firewood and an opposition member missing several teeth.
- Taiwan: The Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China is very notable for its fistfights on the debate floor, which can involve up to 50 legislators at a time. It has such a reputation for fistfighting on the debate floor that some lawmakers have been accused of staging such fights just to maintain that reputation. It doesn't help that the Republic of China is relatively new to democracy (only getting it for real in The '90s) and that the idea of the sitting President running for re-election (Chen Shui-bian in 2004) staging a (non-fatal, of course) shooting on himself and running mate the day before the actual election to garner sympathy votes was not widely-lampooned speaks to the country's desensitization to political violence by that point — for what it's worth, Chen won re-election by 0.22% of the votes cast and multiple investigators (include those brought in from the United States) concluded the perpetrator acted alone. That Other Wiki lists nine separate incidents of violence in the Legislative Yuan since 2000 (and that's accounting for the fact that violence has gotten less common since the 1990s), with individual acts ranging from throwing water balloons to barricading the doors with chairs to a Food Fight with bananas to a contentious bill being eaten by a member to prevent its passage into law, along with all sorts of brawls and fistfights.
- Uganda: In September 2017, a huge melee fight took place in Uganda's parliament. The cause was, among other things, disagreement over a proposed law to increase the premissible age for president. This, according to the opposition, would allow a corruption-suspect Yoweri Museven to continue in his position as president. You can watch the fight in all its glory here.
- Ukraine: Mostly reactions to the political manifestations of the meddling of Vladimir Putin's Russia in the country's internal affairs in the twenty years prior to the full-scale war that started in early 2022.
- The 2010 debate in the Verkhovna Rada that resulted in Russia's lease on naval bases in the country being extended until 2042 involved a full-scale brawl that featured eggs being thrown and someone letting off a smoke grenade.
- A 2012 debate over whether Russian should be an official language in the country (Serious Business throughout Eastern Europe) again devolved into violence.
- This fight in April 2014 arose after pro-Russian protesters had started a campaign to separate the eastern regions of Ukraine and annex it to Russia, and nationalists tried to forcibly stop a Communist legislator from speaking out against nationalism. A similar fight happened in July of that same year, which became famous due to a picture taken of it, which accidentally ended up composed with the golden ratio◊.
- This fight in December 2015 needs to be seen to be believed. It involved a bouquet of roses and the Prime Minister being carried by the ballsack.
- The United Kingdom: In the House of Commons, there's long been a tradition of legislative violence, and the convention that the party of government and the opposition take their seats on opposite sides of the room came about specifically to deter Members from getting physical: There's an oft-repeated myth that there are two red lines on the carpet, at two swords' lengths apart, which MPs are not allowed to cross — a custom originating from the days when MPs brought their weapons to work. There's a reason that there is a ceremonial mace, though, and why Parliament cannot legally meet without it. All you need to do these days to "threaten" violence if you're a particularly passionate MP is to symbolically remove the mace from its resting place (although a few have waved it around menacingly). The last time there was any physical violence was in 1972, when MP Bernadette Devlin slapped Home Secretary Reginald Maudling across the face.note The chaotic 2022 debates over a ban on fracking which partially led to the downfall of Prime Minister Liz Truss's government apparently came close, however; many Conservative MPs in favour of the ban reportedly were physically manhandled by government whips into voting against it.
- Several famous instances in the United States: Historically, fighting wasn't unusual in the U.S. Congress. Legislators from both houses and all political persuasions were known to carry canes, blades, and even revolvers to debates.
- The most famous altercation in Congress took place in the Senate chamber on May 22, 1856, when Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina savagely beat Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts with a gold-tipped cane, in response to a powerful anti-slavery speech by Sumner. This attack is famous for being seen as particularly cowardly, as the desks were bolted down and Brooks positioned himself so that Sumner couldn't escape or even defend himself. Congressman Anson Burlingame, also of Massachusetts, outright called Brooks a Dirty Coward; Brooks responded by challenging him to a duel, only to back out when Burlingame started planning logistics (after discovering that Burlingame was a crack marksman).note Sumner, for his part, took three years to recover, only to come back and become even more of a radical opponent of slavery.
- Two years later, Congressman Lawrence Keitt of South Carolina (who'd helped out Brooks with his attack by turning his gun on anyone who tried to assist Sumner) started another brawl after a heated debate on slavery, when he tried to strangle Congressman Galusha Grow of Pennsylvania. It ended after a missed punch dislodged a congressman's Dodgy Toupee, whereupon the congressman put it back on backwards, causing everyone else to bust out laughing.
- On February 22, 1902, Benjamin Tillmann made a speech in the Senate chamber accusing John L. McLaurin of having accepted bribes, triggering a fistfight between the two. This was particularly strange, as not only were both men Democrats, but Tillmann was the senior Senator of South Carolina and McLaurin the junior Senator of the same state. The Sergeant at Arms and other Senators broke up the fight, and the Senate passed a resolution censuring them both.
- The House of Representatives has its own ceremonial mace, in much the same tradition as the British Parliament. Similarly, particularly passionate congresspeople might pick it up in a show of menace. One time in 1994, Maxine Waters of California threatened to use it on Peter King of New York, but got sidetracked when other representatives tried to figure out what it was, and subsequently couldn't find it.
- Representatives Howard Berman and Brad Sherman nearly got into a brawl because they agreed with each other. A redraw of the district maps in California led the two of them to represent the same district, so they had to campaign against each other to keep their jobs. This led them to get a little physical over which of them wrote the DREAM Act,note and a police officer wound up having to come onstage in order to assure they separated before someone got hurt. As you can tell from the video, the whooping crowd probably didn't help tensions much.
- During the Congressional certification of the 2020 electors on January 6, 2021, Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD) and Colin Allred (D-TX) nearly came to blows during a speech by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) condemning the pro-Donald Trump rioters who attempted to disrupt the process earlier in the day. As Lamb gave his speech, Allred spoke in a foul manner to Harris, resulting in a shouting match between the two. Given the heightened tension surrounding the riots, the two congressmen had to be physically separated to prevent a fight from breaking out. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) even had to verbally reprimand Harris and Allred before dismissing them.
- At the start of the 2023 Congressional session, the House of Representatives deadlocked on electing a Speaker of the House, despite the fact that the Republicans had a (albeit slim) majority at the time, due to a far-right faction led by Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz refusing to support the GOP's candidate Kevin McCarthy, costing him just enough votes to keep him from the required minimum. After days of failed negotiations to satisfy this group, Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama (also a Republican) lunged at Gaetz while he was in private discussion with McCarthy on the floor (allegedly because Gaetz was asking for a subcommittee chairmanship that Rogers was in line for) and had to be held back and dragged away by North Carolina Congressman Richard Hudson (yet another Republican).
- It also happens on the state and local level:
- A fistfight (almost) erupted on the floor of the Alabama State Senate in 2007.
- In 1981, Philadelphia City Councilmen John Street and Francis Rafferty — the latter a former prizefighter — engaged in a fistfight on the council floor. It was one of a string of disreputable events that earned the council the label of "Worst Legislative Body in the World". Nineteen years later, Street would be elected mayor. (Funnily enough, he's widely considered to have done a pretty decent job as Mayor.)
- In 2018; the town of Hertford, North Carolina (located in northeastern North Carolina approximately an hour from the North Carolina-Virginia state line) had an incident involving town councilors Quentin Jackson and Sid Eley (the latter a former Mayor) in which Jackson punched Eley during a dispute shortly after a town council meeting. Jackson initially claimed it was in self-defense but would eventually plead guilty to assault, being sentenced to a week in jail in December 2019.
- Yugoslavia: In 1928, Puniša Račić, a representative of the People's Radical Party, shot five people during a parliament session. Three of them, including Stjepan Radić, leader of the Croatian People's Peasant Party, died. The shooting caused a political crisis, and as a result, in 1929 King Alexander I abolished the Constitution, dissolved the Parliament and established a royal dictatorship. Račić was initially sentenced to sixty years in prison which was immediately reduced to twenty, most of which he served in house arrest before being killed by Partisans in 1944 in the middle of World War 2, presumably for revenge.