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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Kavanaugh Probe Must Be Reopened After FBI Allegedly Ignored Thousands of Tips About Him: Ex-Federal Prosecutor
Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner is demanding an investigation into the FBI after it was revealed that there were 4500 complaints filed against then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh that went ignored and were merely handed over to the White House.
The Guardian reported that the FBI claimed they didn’t have the authority to investigate Kavanaugh during his nomination process. It comes while the FBI is facing demands of a probe into how it mishandled allegations that Dr. Larry Nasser was molesting and raping Olympic gymnasts.
In 2018, when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward with her allegations of sexual assault when they were in high school. A Yale classmate also accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her when they were in college. The FBI has been accused of not thoroughly investigating those allegations, as well as flat-out ignoring thousands of others while doing a background check into Kavanaugh.
The FBI closed their background check after just four days, handing over all 4500 allegations against him to President Donald Trump’s White House officials.
“The very person — the very office that was trying to cram Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court down America’s throat,” said Kirschner.
It was only this week that the FBI revealed to the Senate Judiciary Committee how many tips they got about Kavanaugh that went ignored.
“At the heart of the new questions that [Christopher] Wray will face later this week, when he testifies before the Senate judiciary committee, is a 2010 Memorandum of Understanding that the FBI has recently said constrained the agency’s ability to conduct any further investigations of allegations of misconduct,” said the report.
Kirschner explained that presumably the new administration has those 4500 accusations and could conduct an investigation into them. He went on to call for the 4500 citizen tips to be subpoenaed by Congress so that they can see the accusations that were ignored.
“Let’s start doing some damn justice,” he said, noting that women in Texas deserve it as do the rest of America.
“In its years-late response to our questions, the FBI leaned hard on the notion that this MOU limited its authority to be the FBI and investigate wrongdoing. Now that we have the MOU, it’s even harder to understand the Bureau’s excuses for ignoring credible information it received. Director Wray ought to be ready to answer my questions about this episode — I won’t stop asking until he does,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
See the analysis below:
MSNBC’s Morning Joe Breaks Down Why GOP’s California Recall Failure Spells Great News for Dems in 2022
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said the results of California’s failed recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom should be seen as good news for Democrats heading into next year’s congressional midterm elections.
The county-by-county results largely mirrored Democratic wins in last year’s presidential election, and the “Morning Joe” host said they should take comfort in those numbers ahead of the 2022 voting.
“Here we have an off-year election in September, when kids are going back to school,” Scarborough said. “This is a race that is set up for a surprise like we saw in 2009, when the race for [Sen.] Ted Kennedy’s replacement shocked the world and went Republican. If i’m a Democrat and looking at this map, and it’s basically an overlay of the 2020 election, a presidential year election where Democrats usually do better, where the turnout expands where you’re running against Donald Trump, I’m liking, if I’m a Democrat, I’m liking very much what I’m seeing this morning.”
“I would wait to see how the numbers were in Orange County, and look at the swing districts the Democrats could pick up in 2022 and overlay those numbers,” he added. “For me, I’m sure Republicans may look at this differently. For me, this is a really big win for Democrats in terms of a report card nine months in. A lot of bad things happening on the national level, you look at right now with Afghanistan, you look at Joe Biden’s numbers down, again, the fact that when people went to polls and this sort of race, and the fact that Democrats held their own, I would mark that down as a really big win were I a Democrat trying to plan ahead for 2022.”
Some of the dynamics that broke Democratic in the recall effort will likely play a major role in the midterms, as well.
“I also want to look at some of the things that drove the election Newsom’s way, and let’s see on that point, let’s talk about the exit poll and COVID,” Scarborough said. “My theory of the case has been run over the 33 percent politically, run over the 30 percent politically, like Republicans did in Texas on the abortion law, running over the 70 percent, actually. If you’re Gavin Newsom, and you want to win then go where most people go on COVID, on whether it’s the vaccination or masks, do what is right and don’t listen to the 30 percent that are getting their news from Facebook.”
‘Huff and Puff’: Legal Experts Pan Trump’s ‘Desperation’ Executive Privilege Attempt to Block Jan. 6 Committee
Legal experts are weighing in after Donald Trump released an angry statement Wednesday night following reports the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has ordered a massive trove of documents related to the insurrection, including many items about the former president, including his mental health.
“Unfortunately, this partisan exercise is being performed at the expense of long-standing legal principles of privilege,” Trump claimed in his attack. “Executive privilege will be defended, not just on behalf of my Administration and the Patriots who worked beside me, but on behalf of the Office of the President of the United States and the future of our Nation.”
That does not appear to be accurate.
“There’s a legitimate scope of executive privilege, which ensures a president gets candid, thorough advice,” says former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now an MSNBC legal analyst and professor of law. “But it doesn’t extend to covering up efforts to keep the new president from taking office. Trump’s desperation to keep info secret says it all.”
Attorney Teri Kanefield, whose legal analysis appears in numerous mainstream news publications, says: “I’d like to hear how revealing communication about an insurrection and a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally would ‘impair government functions.'”
“This doesn’t stop him from filing a lawsuit. It won’t go anywhere, but he can huff and puff,” she adds.
Kanefield also notes “the DOJ already said Trump-era officials can testify.”
CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig predicts Trump will try to obstruct the Committee’s work by taking it to court:
Trump threatened to invoke executive privilege in order to block the January 6 investigation.
— Alli Hedges Maser (@AllisonLHedges) August 26, 2021
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