Legal experts warn of 'grave peril' after the Supreme Court's latest rulings affecting the heart of democracy
Chief Justice John Roberts let the U.S. Supreme Court's calendar slip into July, to allow time to hand down decisions in two cases that history may see as especially critical to the future of actual democracy in America, or rather, to ending actual democracy in America.
Legal and voting rights experts blasted the Roberts Court's final decisions of the October 2020 term.
On Thursday the Court's six conservative justices, five of whom were appointed by Republican presidents who had not won the popular vote when they entered the White House, joined together against the remaining three liberal justices, to make it even harder to vote, to make dark money even more prevalent in American elections, and to warn those who are fighting for the right to vote to not challenge the current slate of voter restriction laws sweeping the country.
As The New York Times put it, one of Thursday's decisions was "a test of what remains of the Voting Rights Act," declaring the Supreme Court today "suggested that challenges to many new measures making it harder to vote may not be successful."
Ari Berman, one of America's voting rights experts and author of "Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America," expressed frustration after the day's decisions were handed down.
5 of 6 conservative Supreme Court justices were appointed by GOP presidents who initially lost popular vote & confirmed by senators representing minority of Americans\n\nAmerican democracy completely broken— Ari Berman (@Ari Berman) 1625150644
Is Berman being hyperbolic?
Ezra Klein, in his New York Times opinion piece Thursday titled "The Rest of the World Is Worried About America," spoke to scholars of democracy from other countries.
"I'm positive that American democracy is not what Americans think it is," David Altman, a political scientist in Chile, told me. "There is a cognitive dissonance between what American citizens believe their institutions are and what they actually are."
Klein puts a somewhat optimistic spin, if that's possible, on the state of democracy in America, or at least, its future, but it's impossible to dismiss this:
"The thing that makes me really worried is how similar what's going on in the U.S. looks to a series of countries in the world where democracy has really taken a big toll and, in many cases, died," Staffan Lindberg, a Swedish political scientist who directs the Varieties of Democracy Institute, said. "I'm talking about countries like Hungary under Orban, Turkey in the early days of Erdogan's rule, Modi in India, and I can go down the line."
But back to today's SCOTUS decisions.
Here's what other experts are saying.
Elie Mystal, a frequent guest on MSNBC and the Justice Correspondent at The Nation writes (or, appropriately, screams):
Can Democrats read this decision and tell me HOW THE HELL either the For the People Act, the John Lewis Act, or anything else, PASSES CONSTITUTIONAL MUSTER IN FRONT OF THIS SCOTUS?\n\nHOW. HOW??? EXPAND THE COURT OR YOU GET NOTHING— Elie Mystal (@Elie Mystal) 1625148718
Today in Supreme Court newshttps://twitter.com/LouisRBridgema3/status/1410606982768119826\u00a0\u2026— Elie Mystal (@Elie Mystal) 1625150551
Berman had more to say:
SCOTUS conservative majority is quite literally making it easier to buy an election and harder to vote in one— Ari Berman (@Ari Berman) 1625149073
Never forget: If Mitch McConnell had not stolen 2 Supreme Court seats for Trump there would be 5-4 progressive majority protecting voting rights instead of 6-3 conservative majority gutting them— Ari Berman (@Ari Berman) 1625152507
John Roberts has been trying to eviscerate Voting Rights Act for 40 years\n\nAs young lawyer in Reagan DOJ he led fight to gut Section 2 of law\n\nIn 2013 he wrote opinion gutting Section 5 of VRA\n\nEvery story today needs to highlight thishttps://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/08/john-roberts-voting-rights-act-121222/\u00a0\u2026— Ari Berman (@Ari Berman) 1625158818
Rick Hasen, one of the nation's top election law experts and a Professor of Law and Political Science at UC Irvine, sums up today's decision in the voting restriction case as "something very, very bad":
and this is EXACTLY what we gothttps://twitter.com/rickhasen/status/1410366763598893057\u00a0\u2026— Rick Hasen (@Rick Hasen) 1625150629
"The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, has severely weakened Section 2 of the Voting rights Act as a tool to fight against laws that make it harder to register and vote," he adds.
Sam Levine, Voting rights reporter at The Guardian:
After Brnovich decision today, "the conservative Supreme Court has taken away all the major available tools for going after voting restrictions," @rickhasen writes. https://electionlawblog.org/?p=123065— Sam Levine (@Sam Levine) 1625150442
And Mark Joseph Stern, who writes on the law and the courts for Slate, declared the Court handed down "two gut punches to democracy."
The Supreme Court closes out its term with two gut punches to democracy. Americans for Prosperity is as bad as it could possibly be. Brnovich is not the worst-case scenario, but it is still very, very bad. The Voting Rights Act is in grave peril at SCOTUS. Both 6–3 decisions.
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) July 1, 2021
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