Now About Those Voting Rights …

Today I share with you the latest short piece from Robert Reich on how our voting rights are being trampled and the U.S. Supreme Court is helping trample them.


How to stop the Supreme Court from crushing voting rights while expanding the political rights of big money?

Should the Court be expanded, or is there another way?

I’m old enough to remember John F. Kennedy’s and Lyndon Johnson’s presidencies, and Earl Warren’s Supreme Court. They understood the ethical and constitutional necessity of strengthening democracy by constraining the rich and the bigoted, and protecting the votes of people of color and the poor. But starting with Ronald Reagan’s presidency and John Roberts’s Supreme Court, this responsibility has been turned upside down. Reagan loosened campaign finance laws and turned his back on voting rights, and the Roberts Court has made it harder for people of color and the poor to vote — while making it easier for the rich to flood our system with campaign money.

On Monday, a majority of the Supreme Court — all of them Republican appointees, three appointed by Trump — restored an Alabama congressional map that creates only one district favorable to a Black candidate. The Court thereby halted a decision made last month by three federal judges that threw that map out on the basis of the Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, finding that with a Black population accounting for 27 percent of the state’s population, Alabama should have created at least two districts with Black majorities or in which Black voters have an opportunity to select representatives they favor. The full case won’t be heard by the Supreme Court until next term, so the gerrymandered map will remain in place for the 2022 midterm elections.

This has been the pattern for the Republican Supreme Court. You’ll recall that in its 2013 decision Shelby County vs. Holder, a majority of the Court (again, Republican appointees) gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, requiring states with histories of racial discrimination in voting (such as Alabama) to get approval from the Justice Department before making any changes in their voting laws.

But when it comes to money in politics, the Roberts Court doesn’t defer to legislators. It has continually overturned restrictions on how much wealthy people can contribute to political campaigns, beginning with its 2010 decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (that decision, again, by Republican appointees).

At a time in our nation’s history when democracy is under direct assault by the Trump Republican Party, this asymmetry in the Supreme Court’s decisions — constraining voting rights for people of color and the poor, while expanding the political rights of the moneyed interests — is especially unwarranted.

15 thoughts on “Now About Those Voting Rights …

  1. Jill, the only advice I can give is when people want you not to vote, that is the time you need to know the rules, however unfair they are, and get out and vote. Donald Trump won in 2016 primarily because too many people chose not to vote because of Hillary Clinton’s imperfections among other things. Keith

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    • You know I fully agree with you, and there are some who are determined to find a way to vote. But sadly, far too many are already overwhelmed with jobs, children, etc., and the extra effort to take a bus to a polling place 30 miles away, be asked for 2 forms of photo ID, then return late for work because of the lengthy bus ride is just too much, so they throw their hands up and say, “Forget it!” The 2020 turnout, with postal voting in many states due to the pandemic, was fantastic and I’d love to see that level of participation again this year, but I have a very bad feeling that it won’t, especially in the red and southern states.

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  2. A while ago Mr. Rich asked me how I would change the Supreme Court. I am not saying he listened to me, but amongst my ideas was expanding the court to 10, or maybe even 12, jurists. . My suggestion was that to make a decision at least 6, if not 7, justices would have to agree. In a politically rounded court, 5 Rep and 5 Dems, that would mean at least one member, preferably 2, of a party would have to agree with the other side. I did not go into the details of that, and maybe I should have. If a majority vote cannot be achieved, the case cannot go away. It must have a clear decision, which was why I suggested a 7 justice majority (if 10 justices, 8 or 9 if 12.). It is possible one jurist could be bought or threatened, but I doubt if two could without someone learning about the shenanigans.
    I also suggested a lot of other things, especially making the court reflect the racial make-up of the society and also the gender make-up of the court, to make sure everyone is represented on the court. I did not suggest keeping the vote divided by party, because that would entrench what is happening these days, allowing political decisions when the jurists are supposed to park their politics outside the door. I don’t remember what post this was done on, but it was a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, Mr. Reich did not respond to my suggesting.
    I think I forgot to comment on length of term, but I am definitely on the side of limited terms.

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  3. The question ‘expand the court?’ does not have an easily reached answer. It seems that the problems being encountered with today’s Supreme Court closely mimic what Franklin D. Roosevelt faced early in his second term as President. He was trying to secure passage of the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 but it was being blocked. I suggest reading FDR’s lengthy “Fireside Chat on Reorganization of the Judiciary” that was given on March 9, 1937. These words spoken during the chat are astoundingly relevant today : “We want a Supreme Court that will do justice under the Constitution – not over it. In our courts we want a government of laws and not men.” WHAK!! Thank-you!

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  4. Scotus should be seen to be non-partisan but instead are showing themselves to be in the majority, partisan hacks. The court should be expended now. It should reflect the majority of the people and so should maybe be amendedto rreflect the votes cast in an election so the Repugs can’t complain they don”t get a share.Term limits or an upper age limit must be set.

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    • I agree. You know I used to disagree with you on this, but today the Court is naught more than an arm of the Republican Party and the ONLY way to change that is to expand the Court and perhaps amend the Constitution to set term limits for Justices. Clarence Thomas should be ousted based on his wife’s fanatical right-wing activism. In fact, given his history of sexual abuse, he never should have been confirmed in the first place! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
      Cwtch

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  5. Pingback: NOW ABOUT THOSE VOTING RIGHTS … |jilldennison.com | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

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