Thursday, December 08, 2022

US Supreme Court: And now for the right to vote?

Status: 07/11/2022 at 7:16 PM

The US Supreme Court has rarely been under such scrutiny as it is now. Right-wing Republicans hope he delivers a more comprehensive ruling that could affect democracy across America.

By Torsten Teichman, ARD Studio Washington

One sentence has been heard repeatedly in the United States since early July: the Supreme Court is out of control. It is the supporters of American Democrats who are warning that democracy in the United States is in danger.

Torsten Teachman

In an interview with radio station NPR, law professor Melissa Murray talks about one of the most extreme session periods in court history: “Conservatives have a substantial majority and are ready to reconsider those things. The ones we already thought of.”

Trump’s legacy

Critics are reacting to the court’s most recent decisions. Be it abortion, gun rights or environmental protection requirements – right-wing conservative judges on the Supreme Court won a majority. He succeeded American Republicans on controversial issues. US President Joe Biden spoke of abusive behavior.

In one case, the judges even reversed an earlier landmark decision: for example, the court had guaranteed for 50 years that women in the United States had a legal option to have an abortion. Now state laws are once again regulating whether abortion is allowed or almost outright banned.

majority thinks differently

The majority of Americans surveyed said they believed the court’s decision on abortion was wrong. Decisions on weapons legislation and environmental protection are equally publicly controversial. The debate is accordingly emotional.

So a new case is making headlines now, and it won’t be heard until fall at the earliest. The fact that conservative Supreme Court justices want to hear the plaintiffs is seen by some lawyers and commentators in the United States as proof of where things are going.

At its core is the question of whether state legislators should be able to decide on voting rights alone without the possibility of objections from the courts or governors. Or, as Murray puts it, “whether state courts have the authority to impose limits on laws that prevent voters from voting, such as shaping constituencies after voter registration.”

A decision would have consequences for congressional elections, but possibly for the presidential election and the entire democracy in the United States, some lawyers fear.

A general procedure – and its special form

The reason for this is the dispute in North Carolina. There, Republican deputies with their majority in parliament redesignated constituencies for congressional elections, a common process every ten years.

But the deputies passed a bill to ensure that ten of the 14 constituencies went to Republicans before the actual election. However, voters’ votes across the state are almost evenly distributed between Republicans and Democrats.

The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the attempt was unconstitutional. In other states, similar efforts had this with US Democrats.

But North Carolina Republicans appealed to the Supreme Court. He believes that MPs have the sole and independent authority to set the rules for elections. They refer to the Constitution.

American voters are now accustomed to long post-election countdowns. But how constituencies are tailored is increasingly contested.

Image: Associated Press

after the presidential election

After the last presidential election, Republicans in many states had already followed this principle of right-wing lawyers of the “independent state legislature”. He considered not accepting the electoral defeat of his candidate, President-elect Donald Trump.

He wrestled with the idea of ​​having the right to draw up his own list of voters and electors, regardless of the outcome of the counting of votes.

University of Illinois constitutional attorney Vikram Amar is concerned about this argument in an interview with NPR: “When voters in a state elect voters to an electoral convention, it is very dangerous if lawmakers can disregard the decision and Can vote for himself. It has nothing to do with constitutional democracy as I understand it.”

disadvantages of marginalized groups

Are you allowed to do this? Does the US Constitution allow this? This would be the end of democratic suffrage in the United States, a country where marginalized communities often find it difficult to vote in elections.

North Carolina’s Supreme Court trial doesn’t go that far. A Washington DC court will not make a decision until after the upcoming congressional election. But the past few weeks have worried supporters of US Democrats.

Washington cut power

In two judgments, the Supreme Court had returned decision-making powers to the Members of Parliament, the legislature. In the case of abortion, unlike previously established case law, parliaments in federal states are now again responsible. And in environmental protection, according to conservative judges, key issues, such as moving away from fossil fuels, cannot be dealt with by the US Congress.

If the right-wing conservative majority in the court continues to follow this line, some lawyers worry it could give lawmakers unrestricted authority in questions of electoral law, while enforcing the constitution. Whoever is in power can create even more brutal constituencies with the goal of staying in power. And there will certainly be the potential for a constitutional crisis in the next presidential election.

After Supreme Court decisions: Concerns about democracy in the United States

Torsten Teichman, ARD Washington, July 11, 2022 at 10:10 am

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