A Highway To Hell

Since at least the 1964 election (Operation Eagle Eye) the Republican party has been the party of voter suppression. I thought when the decision came down on Monday that the biggest American political story of the week had occurred. With the value of the subsequent history, I wasn’t wrong. It didn’t get a lot of press but the potential is both huge and almost inevitable to be reached!

On Monday a panel comprised solely of Republican appointed federal justices ruled that only the federal government – not individuals or citizens’ groups (i.e. the NAACP) – can sue under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For the moment this ruling only applies to Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and the Dakotas. It is also certain to be appealed. The ruling is ridiculous on at least two counts (covered below) and is almost certain to be decided differently in other federal judicial districts setting up a Supreme Court fight which is what the voter suppression people want (more on that below also).

Basically, we are talking about standing. What this ruling says is that if I feel my right to vote has been denied or diluted, I don’t have standing in court individually or in what is in effect a class action suit. I’m not a lawyer, in fact I didn’t even go to law school but I have a much better understanding of standing than the former president and if the injured party doesn’t have standing, then who does?

In reality this ruling would dictate that only the Justice Department, (read: Attorney General, who in a corrupt administration is a puppet of the president), would have the standing to sue. If, for example, there is a second Trump administration can you see the Attorney General suing to protect voting rights? Remember, Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr would look like boy scouts in that mythical (but tragically possible) administration. Politics not propriety dictates actions in an anti-democratic regime.

Without getting any deeper into the weeds I feel this case will reach the Supreme Court. Let’s look at what that situation looks like. You need five votes to get anything done in the Court. The anti-democratic forces have six possibilities. Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas would vote for a plague if they thought it would help Trump; there’s two. Chief Justice John Roberts (who liberals look to as a possible voice of reason) has a history of voter suppression so he is three. The Trump Trio of Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh are firm Republicans and Federalist Society members. I have to think the bad guys have a much better chance of getting their votes than the pro-democracy forces. As bad as it would be, a 6-3 decision upholding this ruling wouldn’t surprise me.

Thanksgiving is enjoyable, the Israel-Hamas war is important and watching an extra football game or more is great, but the biggest story of last week unfolded on Monday. If you believe in American democracy then there is little doubt that this court decision opened a highway to hell.

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