Washington D.C., — The Supreme Court today released two decisions as it closed out it’s session. One was about voting rights in Arizona and the other a case about the influence of money in American politics. For all their talk about cancel culture and the inability for conservatives to have the microphone, the right-wing is sure hell bent on canceling America from exercising ‘One Vote, One Voice” for the rest of the country.
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It’s no secret, that to be a competitive candidate in today’s political landscape, you need money, and LOTS of it. In the most recent Presidential contest, an eye popping $14 billion dollars was spent to elect the next President of the United States.
With the Supreme Court case in regards to Arizona, the Supreme Court sided with the state, and determined that
- Ballots cast outside of precinct don’t count
- Makes it a crime for people to collect other people’s mail-in ballots (commonly known as ballot harvesting and which is widespread practice in many states that doesn’t violate your vote.)
From a vote of 6-3 in the largely conservative Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS judges remained firm with Arizona in curtailing people’s right to vote.
Democrats across the country have been pressuring the democratically held Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights act to strengthen voting in a country that has seen an onslaught of anti-voting legislation in the months following the most historic election in recent history. Democrats have been worried that Republicans can continue to disenfranchise voters and not give them a voice in who represents them. This further highlights the disparities between Republicans and Democrats with one party restricting the right to vote and preventing people from exercising their democratic rights, and another party that has the political power to pass legislation like H.R. 1 but is not acting on it and faces internal strife with it’s own members.
The limitations in the ability to vote is definitely an issue for communities of color across the United States. The Supreme Court in 2013 God and the voting rights act that was passed in 1965, and since then we have seen an onslaught of restrictions in voting in addition to the ones that we’ve seen in the past two months after the November 2020 election.
In the lower courts, it was found that Black and Latino voters had their ballots thrown out or rejected at a higher rate than white people. Arizona’s indigenous population in rural areas would also stand to be disenfranchised and have their right to vote because of the distance to an mailbox and the fact that there needs to be someone who can be the ‘designated vote harvester’ to be able to drop these ballots off.
SCOTUS Judge Alito, didn’t make things any easier by saying that any future challenges to voting restrictions, cannot come about simply because ‘inconvenience to vote’ when we are aware that the issue is bigger than that and is rooted in deeply systemic racism.
Republicans have been crying fraud since November 2020 election in which they believed that Donald Trump would be winning another election in the middle of a global pandemic that didn’t look like was on track to be resolved within the continental United States.
The Brennan Center is tracking the states that have rolled back the right to vote. Some examples of these restrictions are:
- Reducing the amount of early voting sites.
- Requiring absentee ballots to be accompanied with Photo ID.
- Preventing activists from handing out water and food to those waiting in lines.
- Preventing churches from having ‘Souls to the Polls’ events to encourage congregational participation elections.
- Rolling back the ballot drop off boxes around cities and towns.
- Preventing people from voting by mail or absentee.
In New York State, we have made it significantly easier, not harder to have our voices heard at the ballot box. Some major challenges remain as we can see from the New York City Board of Elections in their partisan makeup and inability to get Ranked Choice Voting results out to the public. More than 100,000 ballots remain uncounted and yet, even preliminary results are harder to come by.
Last Friday, the United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Georgia for the 90-page long bill that disfranchises Georgia’s voters from being able to vote in their elections. What the outcome of that could be given this new SCOTUS ruling, remains to be seen.
One thing is for sure, we don’t ‘beat fraud’ when we curtail people’s most essential rights in a democracy. In 2013, the Supreme Court of the Untied States gutted section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which enables the Justice Department to investigate the violations on people’s right to vote in historically marginalized communities and with a history of discrimination. Voting as a person of color just got harder.
A potential conservative Supreme Court in the near future with more law suits like this, can only serve as a continued let down. With the continued obstacles of Senator Manchin not willing to strike down the filibuster to enact meaningful change to the way we vote in this country, we are facing a crucial stress test in how we are able to vote.
Influence of Money in American Politics
The Supreme Court also ruled in favor of donors who want to remain anonymous. This ruling struck down a previous ruling in California that stipulated that ‘nonprofits have to file a list of their donors with the state.’ The Court sided with non-profits and being able to keep their donors private.
California specifically needed the names [privately] to ensure compliance, to follow the money and to make sure there isn’t any fraud happening. They have a 115,000 nonprofits in the state. It makes much harder to find the donors and makes the state work harder to identify donors.
Americans for Prosperity which was founded by the Koch brothers took the helm on this case and said it violates donors first amendment privacy rights. Many critics have pointed to the Citizens United law as the foundation for which this ruling was based on.
Democrats face a crucial stress test in the upcoming midterms and whether or not they can safeguard the majorities that they have in the house and the senate to make sure that they can enact sweeping laws without having to go through the Republican Party or being able to not rely on senators within their own party who do not stand up for Americans to give us the power in the government in the first place. Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death, last year emphasize the need for a Supreme Court that would be expanded so that the lives of Americans wouldn’t be dictated by the Supreme Court.
As we continue to see however, the influence of big money in our politics isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. What’s even worse is the is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be much that the Democratic Congress can do at this moment in time. Without question performs in the way that Congress is given the authority to govern and the ability to check competing powers, we will always be dealing with the influence of big money in American politics. As the heat waves across this country dictate, climate change is already here, and the realities of what scientist have been warning us for the past decades is already here.
These rulings by the Supreme Court of the United States continue to show how unequal and unrepresentative, Washington remains for those who are continuing to struggle in the aftermath of COVID-19. While the pandemic hasn’t even ended yet, receive the influence of a society that has not learned from its previous transgressions and is unlikely to do so.
In the upcoming midterm elections, the stress test will continue. Should this government be handed over to Republicans, we are unlikely to see any change for the rest of this decade. That would be very costly.