(2:20 – Not sure if this fits, but I wanted to post it and this seems like a good spot)
Mondays in June are the days that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) reveals its answers to the cases it has been toiling over since the first Monday of the previous October when the current term began.
This year has an extra bit of tension going into Monday mornings with the addition of Neil Gorsuch through an incredible denial of constitutional rules exhibited by Chuck Grassley as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Most of us remember the scenario Grassley and McConnell sprung on the country with the death of Anthony Scalia early in 2016. Conjuring up some sort constitutional super power, Grassley declared he would not let his committee hold a hearing on the nominee of the Obama administration. The claims were hokum. The people of Iowa let Grassley know at every stop that he was wrong.
Grassley then went into a game of hide and seek while completing his vaunted “99 county tour” by going to places barely on the map with little to no announcement. By doing that he was able to avoid demonstrations calling out his unconstitutional actions.
When I think back on Grassley’s strange campaign in 2016 and his determination to not even hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, one could almost think that Grassley had some inside info that the Trump camp was working to rig the election. There would be no way to prove it. Grassley could have avoided all the trouble by simply holding a hearing and then having a Republican caucus – that almost always follows orders – simply vote Garland down.
So much for the short history. As of Monday, Neil Gorsuch is the newest member of Supreme Court. With Gorsuch giving the extreme right wing the majority on the Supreme Court, the Court has begun a process of reversing many decisions that have been in effect for decades.
This brings us to Monday’s decision in the case of Ohio’s aggressive voter purge law. A quick look at the law and the decision from Rolling Stone magazine:
Larry Harmon hadn’t voted in a while. He sat out the 2012 presidential election, supposedly because he was unimpressed by the choices of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The software engineer and Navy veteran also skipped the last two-midterm elections. That was his right, right? But when something in our politics inspired him to go to his polling place – a 2015 Ohio ballot initiative to legalize marijuana – he couldn’t cast a ballot. Like millions of Ohioans in the last several years, Harmon was suddenly informed that he was no longer registered to vote.
Any hope for Harmon’s case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, ended on Monday when the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling striking down his victory in a lower federal court, and enabling Ohio to continue its practice of purging voters who do not vote in consecutive federal elections and fail to respond to a mailer. This is worse than voter ID laws – those that mandate the presentation of state identification at polling places in order to vote – in that someone can have an Ohio license and still be treated as if they are no longer a living, tax-paying citizen. Such is the justification offered for the ridiculous “use it or lose it” standard for voting rights.
The Republicans who are currently in charge of the state claim that this “supplemental process” is needed to rid their rolls of dead Ohioans and others who have moved elsewhere. Even if you believe that the people carrying out voter purges have nothing but noble intent, this Supreme Court ruling will have a definite and discriminatory effect: It will ensure that fewer poor, minority, veteran and disabled Ohioans will be able to vote in Ohio.
We must be explicit, as bigotry often hides in semantics. This voter purge is being done deliberately. As with any other form of discrimination, it doesn’t happen by accident. It is alarming to see men like Justice Samuel Alito act like it does.
Near the conclusion of the majority Supreme Court opinion, Alito chose to call out his colleague Justice Sonia Sotomayor. In her dissent, Sotomayor rebuked the ruling, citing statistics of disproportionate purging in black and urban Ohio neighborhoods. “It entirely ignores the history of voter suppression against which the NVRA was enacted,” she wrote of the Court’s decision, “and upholds a program that appears to further the very disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters that Congress set out to eradicate.” Alito wrote that Sotomayor’s dissent “says nothing about what is relevant in this case – namely, the language of the [National Voter Registration Act].” He also complained about Sotomayor even recognizing the discriminatory consequences of the voter purge, soon to go national. “Those charges are misconceived,” he countered, unable to offer any evidence to counter that which Sotomayor supplied.
Much more analysis at the link.
As with many extreme right laws, this Ohio law was passed and implemented to drag our government to the right. They flirt with the edges of constitutionality as part of their strategy. Over the past 20 years, the strategy of gerrymandering coupled with unverifiable and hackable voting systems and voter suppression have given the right control of legislatures in most states along with control of the governor’s mansions. This combination leads to control of the judiciary also in many states.
Thus Grassley’s strategy of refusing to hold a hearing fit like a glove in the right’s strategy.
What does this have to do with Iowa?
Once the Ohio system of purging voters was given the thumbs up by SCOTUS you can bet that every state with the combination of a Republican legislature and a Republican governor will be downloading a generic copy of Ohio’s law from ALEC with the goal of passing the same law in their state before the ink is even dry on the opinion written last Monday.
We won’t hear this on the campaign trail. No candidate will run on taking away your vote. You can bet that if they are Republican, they would vote for a copycat Ohio law in an instant, since it hits Democrats much harder than Republicans.
If Republicans maintain their majorities in Iowa this fall, look for a copycat bill to be run through the legislature during the session.
There is one more lesson here that I hope is not lost on Democrats. If you are lackadaisical about voting, there will be a Republican legislature ready to take your vote away as quick as they can. There has never been a better reason for Democrats to get religious about voting in every election. Don’t even give them a chance to take your vote away.