Democracy’s SCOTUS Shot-In-The-Arm — For Now Anyway

June 28, 2023

Bright sunshine and gathering-warmth temperatures this mid-day Wednesday here in California’s Central Valey — another day in the hot-stacked, rapid road to summer triple-digit numbers upcoming, maybe tomorrow, if not, Saturday at least.
Weather is neither hot nor cold, but constant — nuts to be sure.

Also nuts is the state of America’s democracy, though, joyfully yesterday was handed a solid victory via SCOTUS in knocking down the asshole Republican election-fraud gimmick, “independent state legislature doctrine” (ISLD), and at least helped level the political playing field for a time. GOPers now have to campaign somewhat in near reality.
In time the law won (NYT): ‘The ruling soundly dismissed the theory, one that an unusually diverse array of lawyers, judges and scholars across the ideological spectrum viewed as extreme and dangerous. Adopting the theory, they warned, could have profound consequences for nearly every aspect of federal elections, including by erasing safeguards against partisan gerrymandering and curtailing the ability to challenge voting restrictions in state courts.

Maybe a short reprieve for the fight in democratic hopes:

Sargent at The Washington Post this afternoon:

The Supreme Court’s decision in Moore v. Harper on Tuesday is a major reprieve for American democracy. By rejecting the radical idea that state legislatures have quasi-unlimited power to determine how elections are run, the court made it harder for lawmakers to engage in the shenanigans that Donald Trump encouraged to overturn his 2020 presidential reelection loss.

But the decision is better seen in a broader context: It’s one of many recent developments that show our democratic system is fortifying itself on many levels, unexpectedly reducing the odds of a rerun of Trump’s efforts in 2024.

Along with the ruling, virtually all election-denying candidates for governor and secretary of state in key swing states lost in the 2022 midterms. Congress reformed the law that governs how presidential electors are counted. And the national response to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection has been surprisingly robust, from the House hearings documenting the gravity of that event to the successful prosecutions of the attackers.


In key respects, our national response to Jan. 6 has been unexpectedly good. It has been animated by the idea that Jan. 6 wasn’t a fleeting spasm of MAGA rage, but rather a sign that Trump and parts of his movement pose a lasting threat to our constitutional order.

All these developments vindicate that reading. By dramatizing it, the Jan. 6 hearings helped bring down election-deniers in 2022 and inspire Electoral Count Act reform, which might not have happened if the public hadn’t been on high alert about democracy.

There is an important principle at stake here. It’s sometimes argued that if bad actors are determined enough, they will succeed — that banking on reform and good-faith actors holding the line against efforts to corrupt the system is futile.

However, as much as that’s good-feeling news, Steve M this morning has argument Republicans are going for the long game and small moves are better than a showcase, one-time event:

The Court represents the thinking of GOP establishmentarians. Prior to Donald Trump’s attempt to steal the 2020 election, the mainstream GOP had a project that was working just fine for the party: a gradual tilting of election procedures in the party’s favor, but rarely in a way that attracted the attention of most ordinary Americans. A voter ID law here, a few polling-place closures there, plus a lot of gerrymandering, much of it rubber-stamped by the Court, and, of course, a near-free-for-all in campaign finance — it gave Republicans huge legislative majorities even in states that are close to 50-50 in party makeup (Wisconsin, North Carolina), which has generally meant that the House of Representatives is artificially skewed in favor of the GOP. This angers politically engaged Democrats, but most Americans pay no attention. It’s a long game, and Republicans have been winning it.

Rejoice not too soon.

In time will we know?

Freedom rings, or not, yet once again here we are…

(Image out front by illustrator and portrait painter, Tim O’Brien, and can be found here.)

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