Saturday, January 26, 2013


Here's a passage from the New York Times story about the new federal appeals court ruling overturning President Obama's recess appointments (as you know, a three-judge panel of Republican appointees overturned a century's worth of presidential practice in rebuking Obama):
... the court went beyond the narrow dispute over pro forma sessions and issued a far more sweeping ruling than expected. Legal specialists said its reasoning would virtually eliminate the recess appointment power for all future presidents at a time when it has become increasingly difficult to win Senate confirmation for nominees.
It's become customary for Republican-appointed judges to take narrow questions and use them as an excuse to make sweeping rulings, hasn't it? The Citizens United case certainly wasn't supposed to be a big deal:
The issue before the Justices was a narrow one. The McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law prohibited corporations from running television commercials for or against Presidential candidates for thirty days before primaries. During that period, Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, had wanted to run a documentary, as a cable video on demand, called "Hillary: The Movie," which was critical of Hillary Clinton. The F.E.C. had prohibited the broadcast under McCain-Feingold, and Citizens United had challenged the decision. There did not seem to be a lot riding on the outcome. After all, how many nonprofits wanted to run documentaries about Presidential candidates, using relatively obscure technologies, just before elections?
We know what happened then.

And now, gosh, what ruling can we expect this year from the Court?
The Supreme Court said ... it will review a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that has been the federal government's most forceful tool in protecting minority rights at the polls....

The challenge [is] to Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Ac....

The justices said they would decide whether Congress exceeded its authority in 2006 when it reauthorized a requirement that states and localities with a history of discrimination, most of them in the South, receive federal approval before making any changes to their voting laws.
So the case is ostensibly just about whether it's constitutional for the federal government to continue to subject certain (mostly Southern) states and localities to strict scrutiny of their voting procedures.

But why should we expect the Court to limit itself to that question? Why shouldn't we expect the Court -- which agreed to take this case less than a week after Barack Obama won reelection -- to use the case as an excuse to gut the Voting Rights Act altogether, and all but eliminate federal scrutiny of state voter-registration practices? Y'know, just in time to get the voter rolls purged for the 2014 midterms?

We know that the GOP began trying in earnest to rig the Electoral College vote in key states after the 2012 election results made clear that Republicans can't win fair and square in those states anymore:
Pete Lund, a Republican state representative in Michigan, "plans to reintroduce legislation that would award all but two of Michigan's 16 Electoral College votes according to congressional district results," said an article Friday in The Detroit News.

The paper continued, "The remaining two would go to the candidate winning the statewide majority."

Lund, who proposed a similar bill in 2012, made Republicans' intentions completely clear, saying, according to the article: "It got no traction last year. There were people convinced Romney was going to win and this might take (electoral) votes from him."
So I think it's safe to say that the fix is in. I think the 2014 midterms and 2016 presidential election will be conducted with federal oversight of voter-registration practices all but banned.


Ten Bears said...

See number fourteen of The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism: rigged elections.

No fear...

Victor said...

Who needs a "Putsch," when you have the Federal and Supreme Courts?

Anyone think Roberts or Kennedy are going to anything Liberal?

Yeah, me neither...

Peter said...

Hmm. Precedent goes back to 1823. Honestly, I expect one of the three fascists to publish an opinion along the lines of "Well, Dred Scott and Plessy were settled precedent, too, and this court saw fit to overturn them!

Uncle Mike said...

Aren't federal elections subject to federal guidelines, no matter what state in which the voting takes place? I know the states can pretty much do whatever they want in state and local elections, but I always thought the feds had their say in the federal elections.

I could be wrong.

Steve M. said...

Well, that hasn't stopped a lot of funny business in presidential elections, from the very inaccurate 2000 felon list in Florida to today's voter ID shenaningans (mny ID laws were suspended for 2012, not overturned).

Philo Vaihinger said...

How many Democrats voted to confirm Scalia and Roberts?

What, Democrats shooting our side in the foot because of a pile of crap about senate tradition, deference to the president, and collegiality?