The Supreme Court�s Conservatives Have Laid the Groundwork for the Devastation to Come

The progression of coronavirus was mirrored in the Supreme Court's 2020 term. There were many stages and phases, different strains and variants. There was death, grief, new life and rebirth. There was also denial and gaslighting. We heard many media stories about a confusing and unpredictable court with unlikely pairings and impossible lineups, up until a week ago. There has been plenty of that. With the conclusion of two cases that appeared to be aimed at democracy's very fabric, Thursday saw a shift in the narrative. This one-two punch took aim at Section 2 and the ability to challenge election law that burdens racial minority voters and opened the floodgates to dark money flowing into an already drowning system. It is almost impossible to comprehend that the Supreme Court, which spent so much energy all year trying to appear removed from partisan political, chose to end the term to show us that partisan politics matters when the rubber hits. Advertisement Advertisement Advertisement It is difficult to find a measure that measures how well a story holds up. It was a 3-3-3 court. It was a 4-4-1 court. It was a 2-2-2-1-2-3 court. Only Count von Count could possibly know. Each one of these tales was true but also false. Only 58 merit cases were available to be judged. Some of the blockbuster projects fell apart: The Affordable Care act challenge was not only rejected, but also thrown out. The Affordable Care Act challenges were not able to pass. Also, the court found that dumping people off their healthcare plans during a pandemic was too Dickensian. Because everyone loves Cocoa Hut and middle fingers and varsity cheer, the media paid a lot attention to the swearing cheerleader. The case is a reminder of the First Amendment principle that student speech on campus must be tolerated unless it is prohibited. Fulton v. Philadelphia, which should have been considered the most important religious liberty case, was unanimously decided. It seems to be a landmark principle that, if your foster care certification policy has any discretion, it isn't generally applicable. But who knows what else? We have known for many years that the court excels at using the distinction between political speed and slow burn judicial time to make small things seem important and large things seem insignificant. Advertisement Advertisement You can only go so far with statistical measures of winning or losing justices. The liberal Justices were a lot more in the majority. True, Justices Brett Kavanaugh (and Amy Coney Barrett) seem to have found a middle ground with Chief Justice John Roberts. This leaves the far-right side of the court frustrated by the slow progress in reactionary change. Also, it is true that Justices Clarence Thomas (and Sam Alito) are in a rush while Roberts and the three Trump justices know they have many decades to work with. Sometimes, the lines were surprising when it came to immigration and criminal justice. Voting rights were not affected. This year, the Chamber of Commerce won 83 per cent of the court's time. No surprises. The court did not take up a lengthy challenge to the transgender restroom case, which has been raging for years in the conservative culture wars docket. None of the above mentions the shadow docket, which saw late-night, unsigned orders in matters not fully briefed or argued significantly change the court's approach to death penalty cases, religious freedom, and election law. The court that worked in the shadows from 2020-2021 had as much impact as the one that was in the open. We don't know who wrote the critical opinions, or who signed them in some cases. Advertisement Advertisement The 2020 term will not be used for anything other than the destruction of voting rights or the undermining campaign finance disclosure protections. It will only be applicable to 2020 election cases that the court had a flirt with in the fall and summer, but then shied away from when it really mattered in November. The fact that the court has the power to interfere with elections and fight mail ballot fraud is chilling, indeed, suggests that four justices were at least interested in getting involved in the fights. The fact that six of the six conservative judges voted against Rudy Giuliani's and Sydney Powells claims regarding stolen ballots in November and hack machinery in November does not change the fact they were willing to support the Republican party's attempts to block minority voting, based on the falsehood of vote fraud in June. Advertisement We can see the direction that this Supreme Court is going next by looking at the two conflicting voting rights cases in this term's courts. Before Barrett joined the bench in October, 44 justices were divided over the slight extension by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court of the deadline for mail-in ballots. It was clear to see the plan of the four conservative hardliners: A Bush v. Gore-style post-election case in which the Supreme Court gave itself the power to nullify thousands upon legal ballots. They tried to prevent state judiciaries from protecting voting rights according to their states constitutions. This was too radical even to the Bush v. Gore majority, and it constituted an attack on states rights to establish their own election rules. They also suggested Trumpian conspiracy theories to undermine public confidence and trust in the integrity of this election. They even suggested that Democratic election officials were tampering with ballots. Advertisement Advertisement The Four Horsemen lost and Donald Trump lost far too decisively to win a rematch. In an attempt to reverse the election, Republicans filed a flood of frivolous lawsuits in the courts over the following months. These lawsuits, which cannot be overemphasized enough, were nonsense and symptomatic of the corruption at the core of the conservative legal movement. The conservative justices were praised for their inability to vote, even though the Supreme Court rejected them. Justice Stephen Breyer also praised the court's decision to stay out of the conflict. The Supreme Court was involved in the 2020 elections. Conservative justices worked hard to disqualify large numbers of valid mail ballots from swing states such as Pennsylvania and North Carolina. They tried, but failed, to disqualify a large number of valid mail ballots in swing states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Advertisement Fast forward to Thursday's 63-page Brnovich v. DNC decision, which essentially rewrites the Voting Rights Bill beyond recognition. Kagan wrote in dissident that the majority opinion is a lawless zone. This decision in Brnovich v. DNC rewrote what little of the Voting Rights Act it left to remove protections for racial minority groups who are being targeted by voter suppression laws across the country. Roberts and Barrett joined the rest of conservatives to ensure that substantial numbers of minorities are denied access to the ballot in 2022, and beyond, if they do manage to vote. As in Fulton there was no compromise. The Republican-appointed justices spoke one voice when it came time to abolish the VRA. Advertisement Advertisement Advertisement Brnovich's decision is a hedge against the need for a Bush v. Gore. It is not necessary to wait until an election's eve to disenfranchise voters. You can do this in the middle of the summer, or even in an off-year. These two cases are the most important and we can see a disturbing trend in their comparison: an open hostility towards democracy and equal access to voting. Brnovich, however, is tucked in between compromises such as Fulton. It might not seem like a bad victory for the conservatives, but it's one of a few court decisions that fractured ideologically. This is called a trompe lil. Brnovich's disaster can be diminished by the rush of opinions at its end. The court isn't as unpredictable and nonpartisan if you only focus on the cases that matter most, those that impact Americans' ability to govern themselves. It is reminiscent of what Democrats were most afraid of when Kavanaugh replaced Barrett's more liberal predecessors. It appears to be an ultra-conservative Supreme Court, which has taken aim at the only right that is preservative for all other rights. Advertisement Advertisement Roberts, Kavanaugh and Barrett play the long game. Each of them may serve as a bench member for many decades. They began setting the table in this term. The cases, apart from Brnovich's, were only appetizers. In the next few years, the main course will be served. Barrett's eight-month stint on the bench was not a time to be expecting a major shift. She could well keep the seat until at least 2050. She and her conservative counterparts have made it easier for themselves to get rid of the remaining remnants progressive jurisprudence by getting involved in cases that threaten democracy.


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