June 28th 2019
“We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts…Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions.”
–– John Roberts, Majority ruling, RUCHO ET AL. v. COMMON CAUSE ET AL.
With those words, Chief Justice Roberts twisted a gerrymandering case to address the remit of federal review, not of voters’ rights, but the rights of political parties. It’s a ludicrous argument. Nobody is talking about the rights of political parties; the case is about the efforts of political parties (OK, the Republicans, 99% of the time) to undercut the rights of residents to fair and equitable representation in the Congress. Roberts is pretending that by negating Republican cheating that means the Court would be showing bias in favor of the Democrats.
Usually I use an analogy or metaphor at this point to highlight how ridiculous this is, but words fail me. I feel like I’ve fallen into a novel: Jonathan Swift, maybe, or Lewis Carroll. Franz Kafka? Joseph Heller?
A Court that wasn’t overburdened with fascist toadies would have simply asked the question: are the rights of voters to equal representation being upheld? That’s the only constitutional issue in play: the parties (OK, THE Party) has no rights. And it’s utterly insane to pretend that it’s unconstitutional to interfere with one party’s ability to cheat the voters and deprive them of their rights.
So: suppose some restaurant chain in the South decides to stop serving African-Americans. Don’t laugh; all you need to know to realize how plausible that is would be the fact that several states have passed draconian laws limiting and even banning abortion in hopes that Roberts and his merry band of fascists will strike down Roe v. Wade. If the mere prospect of support from the right wing of the Court is enough to drive the bible pounding no-choice authoritarians into an orgy of attacks on the rights and freedoms of women, what chance will African-Americans have?
/We’re back to the days of Jim Crow. They get sued, and it gets to the Supreme Court. Now, rather than arguing that they have the right to infringe on the right of African-Americans, they instead argue that Jim Crow is simply a better business model, and that the court would risk interfering with their right to compete on a level playing field with their competition.
The Roberts Court would ignore the rights of African Americans in such a case, just as it deliberately ignored the rights of voters in this case. Instead, they would grab evidence, no matter how flimsy, to make it an issue of interfering with fair competition between corporate members of the same service industry.
But it goes beyond that. Ever since they lost control of the Federal Government, the Republican Party have dreamed of States’ Rights. Originally (and to this day) it was the realization that industries could better control the states they dominated than they could the entire country. Extraction companies, then as now, pounded the need to end federal interferences with their profit margins and turn those public lands, such as Yosemite or Yellowstone, over to people who would know how to best make money off of them.
States’ Rights became especially important to Republicans after they used the Nixon Southern Doctrine to become the party of the South. Segregationists dreamed of the day they could Nullify Federal anti-discrimination laws. Big Church industries saw a path to authoritarian pseudo rule through state capitols.
Turning the United States into fifty little fiefdoms benefits authoritarians. It essentially destroys the rights of the people previously known as Americans. Some parts of the country, such as California or New York, would start out OK, but eventually find themselves in a race to the bottom against states that have no problem with slave or indentured labor, are contemptuous of environmental and health safeguards, and rule, rather than govern, meaning the serf class would have little leverage to improve wages or freedoms. It would be like waking up and finding that Vietnam or Burma have moved next door to your state, and your industry is competing with neighbors who don’t have minimum wage, can dump raw sewage in the river upstream from you, and constantly broadcast pseudo-religious propaganda at you.
This is the dream of Roberts and his party stooges.
They have control of the court, and they did it through the duplicity and hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell, and the confused but malign cooperation of Donald Trump, lackey to all authoritarians. In the House, Pelosi showed her centrist colors (white and yellow) once again by caving to Trump’s blackmail on the border.
If they aren’t driven from office, things won’t get better; they will get worse. Much worse.
Republicans have no use for democracy or freedom. They simply want to rule.