The United States Supreme Court handed down two decisions today that will impact whether next year’s election is a fair and honest election or not. While one of those decisions was a proper decision, it is only a temporary one. The other decision basically handed next year’s election to the Republican Party.
First the (sort of) good …
The Court put on hold Wilbur Ross (Secretary of Commerce) and Donald Trump’s attempt to intimidate voters by adding a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census form that every household is required to complete. The Court said that the administration had presented a ‘contrived’ reason for adding the question, but rather than strike down the measure, they merely put the ball back in the administration’s court and told them to come up with a better reason, a more defensible justification.
What happens next with this is anybody’s guess, but the Department of Commerce will begin printing the census forms this summer, so there is not much time to make a final decision. No doubt the government, such as it is, will find a way around it and make up some seemingly legitimate reason for adding the question. Stay tuned …
The second decision handed down by the Court was a travesty of justice. The issue was gerrymandering and whether the courts have the authority to order states to re-draw district maps that are currently drawn in such a way as to diminish the votes of the poor and minorities. For a simple explanation of how gerrymandering works, see my post from February 2018. Gerrymandering is a large part of how Donald Trump came to sit in the Oval Office, for in many states he lost the popular vote, but because of the way votes were apportioned, he won enough districts to nullify the votes of many.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, concluding …
“We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts. Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions.”
Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissenting opinion …
“For the first time ever, this court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.”
The Court understandably walks a fine line here, for it is intended to be non-partisan, and this is a highly partisan issue. But, there is no fine line when it comes to fairness! There is no grey area here! States whose citizenry is majority republican have drawn their district maps to ensure that republicans will receive the largest number of electoral votes. It isn’t debatable, it is simply WRONG!
The ramifications of this decision go beyond the obvious. Think about this. If you are a democrat in a predominantly republican state, and your state’s districts are heavily gerrymandered, skewed to ensure that minority votes are diluted, doesn’t that dim some of your enthusiasm for even voting? One of the biggest problems we have on election day is getting people out to vote. This is especially true of the poor and the minorities, for whom voting has been intentionally made more difficult than it needs to be by unfair voter I.D. laws, closing or reduction of polling places in lower-income neighborhoods, and other cheap tricks. I can easily picture the single mom who has to take an hour-long bus ride after work to reach her polling place on the other side of town just throwing her hands up and saying, “Forget it! I don’t have time for this when my vote isn’t going to count fairly anyway!”
What’s next? Will the Court find a way to rule that voter harassment is not unconstitutional, so men in white robes and hoods can stand in front of polling venues? Might just as damn well!
So much rides on next year’s election, folks. On November 3rd next year, We the People are supposed to make a choice between turning this nation over to a madman who represents only a minority of the people for the foreseeable future, or a person who will safeguard our Constitution, who will represent ALL the people who reside in this nation, not just the chosen few. Due to outside influences in our election process, and due to lack of voter education, the odds are already stacked against sanity reigning. This is just one more blow to the possibility of having a fair and honest election … possibly a death blow.
Many times, I have said that we must hope the one completely independent branch of our government, the courts, would stop Trump from completely destroying this nation. The Court has spoken.