Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Zack Stanton: ‘What If 2020 Was Just a Rehearsal?’

 From Politico:

Rick Hasen isn’t getting much sleep these days.

One of the nation’s foremost experts on the laws that hold together democracy in America, Hasen used to be concerned about highly speculative election “nightmare scenarios”: the electrical grid being hacked on Election Day, or the pandemic warping turnout, or absentee ballots totally overwhelming the postal service. But now, what keeps him up at night aren’t fanciful “what if” exercises: It’s what has actually happened over that past nine months, and how it could truly blow up in the next presidential election.

For the first time in American history, the losing candidate refused to concede the election — and rather than dismissing him as a sore loser, a startling number of Americans have followed Donald Trump down his conspiratorial rabbit hole. The safeguards that ensured he left office last January after losing the presidential election may be crumbling: The election officials who certified the counts may no longer be in place next time he falsely claims victory; if Republicans take Congress, a compliant Speaker could easily decide it’s simply not in his interest to let the party’s leader lose.

“You could look at 2020 as the nadir of American democratic processes, or you could look at it as a dress rehearsal,” says Hasen, a professor of law at UC Irvine.


Read the full story. 



Monday, September 27, 2021

Will Bunch: ‘The survival of U.S. democracy may hinge on this decision by Pennsylvania’s next governor’


From The Inquirer:

To millions of Americans, what just happened in Arizona’s largest county was a laughingstock, a bad joke that blew up in the face of Donald Trump and his cultists like some exploding cigar from a 1940s cartoon. A GOP-approved hijacking of voting records and machines from the 2020 election — do not dare call it an “audit” — conducted by a scammy-is-too-good-a-word contractor called the Cyber Ninjas that dragged on through much of 2021 ultimately claimed that any miscounted votes actually expanded President Biden’s win in Maricopa County. The cackling on left-leaning Twitter and MSNBC Friday night could be heard from Key West to Kalamazoo.

But one man — a Michigan carpetbagger turned Arizona politico named Mark Finchem — had a very different interpretation of what the conspiracy-minded voting sleuths had uncovered with official Republican support. “I call for decertification of the Arizona election, arrest of those involved in tampering with election systems, and an audit of Pima County [in northern Arizona] as a next step,” Finchem tweeted Friday.

The crazy part is that Finchem’s minority viewpoints on Donald Trump and his invisible claims of election fraud may matter a heck of a lot more than yours or mine come the 2024 vote counting. Last week, the disgraced 45th president (and would-be 47th) officially endorsed Finchem, now a state lawmaker, in his 2022 GOP primary bid to become Arizona’s next secretary of state. Trump’s imprimatur makes Finchem the instant primary favorite, in a midterm election in which both history and newfangled voter suppression favors Republicans.

That means Finchem — not just a garden-variety Trumpist but a member of the extremist Oath Keepers who was on the Capitol grounds during the Jan. 6 insurrection — could be Arizona’s chief vote counter if and when the bleats of voter fraud and a stolen election again emerge from Mar-a-Lago in three years.


Read the full story.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Ian Millheiser: ‘The staggering implications of the Supreme Court’s Texas anti-abortion ruling’

From Vox:

At midnight on Wednesday, the Supreme Court allowed a Texas law that effectively bans all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to take effect.

Twenty-four hours later, the Court released a brief, one-paragraph order explaining why it did so — though it is a stretch to describe the Court’s short and thinly reasoned order as an “explanation.” The vote in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson was 5-4, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts crossing over to vote with the three liberal justices.

The implications of this order are breathtaking. The Texas law violates the precedent established in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which protects “the right of the woman to choose to have an abortion before viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the state.” The sixth week of gestation is so early in a pregnancy that many people aren’t even aware they are pregnant....

[The Texas law] relies on a highly unusual enforcement mechanism. No state officer is permitted to enforce the statute. Instead, the law permits “any person, other than an officer or employee of a state or local governmental entity in this state” to file a lawsuit against an abortion provider or anyone who “aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” A plaintiff who prevails in such a lawsuit is entitled to bounty of at least $10,000, paid by the person they sued.

As Justice Sonia Sotomayor explains in one of four opinions filed by the dissenting justices, Texas lawmakers “fashioned this scheme because federal constitutional challenges to state laws ordinarily are brought against state officers who are in charge of enforcing the law.” So if no state officer can enforce the law, it is unclear whether anyone can be sued to block it.

The Supreme Court’s order, joined by the five most conservative justices, effectively blesses this method of evading judicial review.


 Read the full article.