There is a serious conteingent of American political observers who feel that the executive branch is the most powerful of the three theoretically equal branches of government. I have long contended that it is the judicial branch. The reality is that five Supreme Court justices can do just about anything they want to without a check on their actions. That was proven again Monday.
A combination of Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence “Just give the money to Virginia” Thomas decided to stay a unanimous lower court ruling that threw out the Republican gerrymandered proposed congressional maps in Alabama and decided they would hear oral arguments this fall. There is a lot to unpack in that single sentence.
A federal court panel of three judges (one appointed by Bill Clinton and two by Donald Trump) after hearing arguments, declared the maps racially bias and not reflective of Alabama’s current demographics. The Supreme Court just read a few early briefs and took the radical step of staying the lower court’s decision effectively approving the Republican drawn and gerrymandered maps.
Justices Alito and Kavanaugh joined in a statement that to contend that now was too close to the qualifying and primary periods. Assuming that the case will receive a fair hearing in the fall – and I am certainly not laboring under any such assumption – that would mean that a case that could be heard no earlier than Monday October 4th would not be too close to Election Day 2022 which is Tuesday November 8th. (That doesn’t provide for ballots being printed, absentee ballot requests and returns, and any early voting if such exists in Alabama.) Sounds to me like flawed “reasoning” at best.
This was another of the so-called shadow docket decisions which have become a favorite “hiding place” for the “conservative” Court majority. It’s a way to let a favored law take effect without actually making a formal ruling; as in the Texas abortion law which is clearly unconstitutional under current law and Court rulings. Apparently neither courage nor calendar reading ability is desired of a “conservative” Court justice. You might want to add common sense to that list.
In Shelby County the Court eliminated the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Now Republican controlled (and effectively racist) states can change a voting law in any manner they desire and the aggrieved parties have to pursue a remedy in court. Until and unless such relief is granted the new rules stay in effect. The reality has been that several elections are held under the unconstitutional and un-American rules and there is no undoing the actions of illegally elected officials.
This is a best case scenario here. In the unlikely event that one or more of the five justices changes their minds after hearing oral arguments and overturns the Alabama maps the 2020 election results will still stand and whatever harm the illegally elected officials do will simply be reality.
It is much like the person who is unfairly fired only years later to receive an apology. In the interim their marriage ends in divorce, they have their car repossessed, their credit rating is ruined, their kids are nowhere to be found, their home is foreclosed on but they got an apology.
The people of Alabama – and if you think it is stopping there you are a fool – are being squeezed by a cowardly Supreme Court majority. This is how democracies die; from within.
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