There’s an inherent flaw in the emerging Democratic leadership’s strategy to the end of federal protections for abortion, to put the onus for fixing it on voters. Between racial gerrymanders and voter suppression, the window of opportunity for Democratic voters to save anything is being slammed shut by Republicans and the extremist majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Right now, I’m focused on one thing and that’s electing Democratic senators to the United States Senate,” Sen. Gary Peters, Chairman of the Democratic National Senatorial Committee (DSCC) told NBC News. “Our focus in my mind has to be 100% on making sure that we maintain and we expand the Democratic majority in the United States Senate. That’s how we affect real change.” The problem with that is that the Trump-packed U.S. Supreme Court has stacked the deck against that actually working, and are still at it.
On Tuesday, in a 6-3 shadow docket ruling, the extremist majority blocked a lower court order that had struck down a racial gerrymander drawn by the Republican legislature in Louisiana. A federal judge had ordered the state to create a new map that created a second majority-Black congressional district. The state appealed to the Supreme Court, just last week after the 5th Circuit declined to halt that ruling, and the Court delivered. From the shadow docket. Again.
That’s this election the Supreme Court is actively involved in rigging for Republicans. Next session, they’re going to take on the 2024 election, with a case that could hollow out what remains of the Voting Rights Act. The Court has been chipping away at the VRA for a decade, starting with the requirement that states and counties with a history of racist voter suppression had to get the approval of new election laws and rules from the Department of Justice before enacting them.
This fall, the court will hear another redistricting case out of Alabama, one that will target basically the last standing piece of the VRA: Section 2, which prohibits voting practices and procedures that discriminate on the basis of race. The Supreme Court already overruled a lower federal judge who had tossed Alabama’s Republican-drawn map. They reinstated the map in a 5-4 rule, on the basis that it was too close to the election to make the state draw a new map.
“I would say that minority voting rights have deteriorated significantly,” Rick Hasen, a prominent election law expert, told Politico. “Now with the [Alabama] case … there’s the potential to really undermine Section 2’s use as a tool for minority representation and empowerment.”
Hasen has also been watching the Court carefully to see if it takes on the ridiculous “independent state legislature” theory which essentially would give Republican state legislatures the power to do what Trump wanted them to in 2020: Overrule the courts—state and federal—and decide presidential elections. Hasen calls it the “800-pound gorilla of election cases.” The Court hasn’t announced yet if it’s going to take it up, either from a case presented by North Carolina or a different one from Pennsylvania, but the fact that it’s a very real possibility that they will is horrifying.
It’s really past time that elected Democrats recognize that Republicans and the Supreme Court have declared war on them, and start thinking strategically and communicating that realization to the rest of us.
There’s no guarantee at all that voting harder is going to save the day, particularly when the people doing the voting are all shoved into concentrated congressional districts and can’t change the national gerrymandered calculus.
They need a plan.
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.