While Republicans in state legislatures are proposing voter suppression bills all around the U.S., Democrats are pushing the For the People Act at the federal level — a comprehensive voting rights bill that has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives but now faces a steep uphill climb in the U.S. Senate. Democrats have a narrow majority and must contend with the filibuster for most legislation. Far-right pundits have been railing against the act, known as HR1, on conservative media outlets like Fox News, Fox Business and Newsmax, and observers warn Republicans will take extreme efforts to fight any such reforms.
Beutler contemplates various scenarios and how they could affect voting rights if they come to pass. Some scenarios to consider, Beutler writes, include 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court becoming available, Democrats losing their narrow Senate majority, and the court attacking voting reforms if Democrats somehow manage to get them passed in the Senate.
“Here’s a nightmare scenario I encourage everyone — but particularly, Breyer and Senate Democrats — to imagine having to endure,” Beutler writes. “Through illness or untimely death, Democrats’ 50-50 Senate ‘majority’ becomes a 49-50 Senate minority. They don’t retain the seat. Joe Biden loses reelection. We’re all left hoping Breyer can survive into his 90s so that the Supreme Court doesn’t swing from 6-3 to 7-2. Mitch McConnell gets Charlie Kirk fitted for a robe.”
He continues: “Now consider this less speculative nightmare scenario. Democrats let bygones be bygones, leave court reform out of their larger democracy-reform project, change the filibuster rules, pass both HR 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — and the existing Supreme Court takes a hatchet to it. We should know to expect this, because Republicans declared the For the People Act ‘unconstitutional’ sight unseen, as a kind of bat signal to their allies on the courts to make sure democracy reform can’t take effect.”
Beutler adds, “We can’t know in advance which provisions of these bills the Supreme Court would invalidate, but it’s trivially easy to step into the shoes of conservative justices and extend the same pseudo-constitutional arguments they’ve used to degrade American election law over the last decade to new reforms. Campaign-finance regulations? Well, those obviously violate the 1st Amendment. Non-partisan gerrymandering? The federal government can’t dictate that kind of thing to the states!”
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) April 16, 2021
But Democrats don’t just face dangers from the right-wing Supreme Court. Republicans controlling key state legislatures, oftened heavily gerrymandered to protect their majorities from swings in public opinion, are actively considering how to thwart efforts to make elections fairer.
Democracy Docket, in a “legislation alert” published this week, describes Texas House Bill 4507 — which has been proposed by Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives and would “essentially create a two-tiered voter registration system, in an effort to evade federal voting rights protections that could pass into law this year.”
Democracy Docket explains, “HB 4507 establishes two different registration processes: one for federal elections, which would be required to comply with national legislation such as the For the People Act — and one for state elections, which Texas Republicans claim could ignore these federal requirements. Any voter registering to vote in a federal election would not be automatically registered for local and state elections, unless they meet the much stricter and more exclusionary requirements of Texas’ election code. Instead, they would have to apply and register again separately for their local elections.”
On Twitter, attorney Marc E. Elias, founder of Democracy Docket, described HB 4507 as an example of “how desperate Republicans are to prevent all voters from participating in elections”:
As HR1/S1 moved closer to passage, this is a tactic to watch for in a number of red states. It shows how desperate Republicans are to prevent all voters from participating in elections.https://t.co/yTZ94oUuZH
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) April 15, 2021
After liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent tweeted Beutler’s Crooked Media column, law professor and election law expert Rick Hasan noted:
There's lots that can be done in the careful drafting of these election reform measures that can bolster their constitutionality. Hopefully when there is a proposal with a serious chance of passing, election law scholars will be consulted.
— Rick Hasen (@rickhasen) April 16, 2021
Image via Shutterstock
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‘Shouting Into the Void’: Trump’s Social Media Launch Laughed Off by Experts
On Saturday, Business Insider profiled the ways that former President Donald Trump’s banishment from social media has affected the viability of his message on the national stage — and the halfhearted way he is trying to make up for what he has lost.
“Former President Donald Trump’s new ‘communication platform’ launched this week was widely mocked as little more than a ‘glorified blog,'” reported Thomas Colson. “The site — revealed on Tuesday — followed Trump’s longtime adviser Jason Miller promising that Trump would soon create a social media platform that would ‘completely redefine the game’ on social media.”
“‘A challenge for Trump is that the most effective online engagement requires interaction,’ Peter Loge, associate professor school of media and public affairs at the George Washington University, told Insider,” continued the report. “‘Fans want to feel as if they have a relationship with their favorite celebrity. These ‘parasocial relationships’ are what keep fans coming back and buying more stuff,’ he said. ‘At this point, Trump is just shouting into the void. He isn’t letting anyone shout back.'”
This week, Facebook’s independent oversight board, commonly referred to as the social network’s “Supreme Court,” upheld the former president’s ban from the platform following his conspiracy theories that contributed to the violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol. However, the board also urged Facebook to create more workable standards for issuing such bans, and revisit the Trump case in six months.
Epic Rachel Maddow Explainer Shows How Bill Barr and Donald Trump Just Got Caught
Tuesday, federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued a scathing order about Attorney General Bill Barr falsifying documents to cover up why the Justice Department refused to prosecute former President Donald Trump for obstruction of the Mueller investigation.
In her analysis, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow walked through the shocking decision and the extent to which it will not only open the door to reexamine the obstruction cases, but it also essentially calls Barr a bad-faith liar in federal court.
“I was having a little bit of deja vu, a little bit like being back to the battle days, with whole big sections of the judge’s ruling redacted,” said Maddow referring to Jackson’s decision. “That’s because those redacted parts of her ruling actually show what’s in this document that she just ordered the Justice Department to release. She redacted those portions of her rule, and she didn’t just go ahead and release the document today because she’s allowing a couple of weeks to allow for the possibility that the Justice Department, under new management, may appeal her ruling and still try to keep this thing under wraps.”
Calling it “a heck of a thing,” Maddow explained that the new White House has made it clear that they want to look forward, not back. At the same time, the new White House has also said that they have no intention of meddling with the Justice Department’s decisions or cases.
“Merrick Garland is the attorney general now, all new leadership at the Justice Department, all new priorities, moving forward with a million things at once, and here’s a judge saying, you know, your immediate predecessor in this job lied to me, lied to the court and lied to the American public about something as freaking serious as why the former president was not charged with crimes,” Maddow continued. “You cool with the evidence of all of that being released to the public? Because it’s coming out in two weeks unless you want to appeal my ruling.”
The question then becomes, since the former attorney general lied and falsified a paper trail to a decision not to prosecute Trump, will the new Justice Department review that case for another decision.
See Maddow’s explainer below:
Stunning Confession From Matt Gaetz’s Wingman Was a ‘Signal’ to Trump: Legal Expert
On CNN this Friday, legal analyst Elie Honig was asked about the recent bombshell news story surrounding a confession letter reportedly written by friend of Florida GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz.
In the letter, which was written in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency, former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg admits that he and Gaetz paid for sex with a girl who was 17-years-old at the time. The confession was sent to Roger Stone, a supporter of Trump.
“Why on earth would Joel Greenberg, who at the time was charged with very serious federal crimes but not yet convicted, write out a confession and send it in to the government?” Honig said. “Here is the only possible way I can make sense of this … this was an effort by Joel Greenberg and Roger Stone to try to send a signal to the White House: you better pardon him or else, because he has the goods on your buddy, President Trump, Matt Gaetz.”
“So I think the message is: pardon him, you’re gonna save Gaetz — don’t pardon him, he’s gonna do what he’s gotta do,” Honig added.
Watch the video below:
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