By telling Senate Republicans on Saturday that they have an obligation to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg “without delay”, President Trump sets in motion a process that could dominate the remaining weeks of the presidential election. The issue will further galvanize core supporters on both sides, but if the GOP or the Democrats are looking for additional motivation, they may do worse than shouting, “Remember the hanged Chad!”
As the battle cries go, that might not make the blood warmer but it should at least stir up memories. These would be the memories of the Supreme Court that decided the presidential elections of 2000 by resolving the disputes over paper ballots.
A key ruling in Bush v. Gore said Florida’s use of different standards for counting votes in different counties was unconstitutional, with a vote of 7-2. And, in a 5-4 vote, the court also said there was no time to set the process before the constituency met to certify the election.
The result was that George W. Bush won Florida’s 25 electoral votes, giving him 271 to Al Gore’s 266.
To many Americans, the case probably looks like an ancient story, if they know it, but there is a strong possibility that the Supreme Court will have to make decisions in this presidential race as well. One more reason, then, why the court should have its full set of nine judges.
Democrats swear vehemently to oppose the prospect of a sixth constitutional conservative on the sidelines, and already the far left threatens violence. If nothing else, this should stiffen the thorns of some Republican senators who are wary of addressing the issue.
It’s their job, and slipping into the fetal position in the face of controversy and threats is unspeakable cowardice.
Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have precedents on their side in that history is littered with high court appointments and election year confirmations when the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party. Presidents Dem FDR and Woodrow Wilson did so, with Wilson having two confirmed appointments in 1916 while seeking re-election. However, I cannot find examples as close to election day as the present case.
But as Senator Ted Cruz noted, the timetable should be a reason to move forward, not an excuse to delay. Cruz, a Republican from Texas, argues that a 4-4 ruling in a case like Bush v. Gore would create a “constitutional crisis” and must be prevented.
If the outcome of the election depended on a court ruling, which is certainly possible given the passions and potential machinations involved in universal postal voting, a parity vote in the Supreme Court could leave America without a president and no way. to solve the problem. problem.
Politically motivated violence is already spreading, so imagine what could happen if the elections were left undecided. The great American story of the peaceful transfer of power could be in jeopardy.
If that sounds far-fetched, consider some of the suspicious decisions already made in various states that deliberately undermine voting security. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, for example, voted last week along the lines of the party (judges are elected) that county mailboxes, including unattended ones, could be used to collect votes.
Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and his party supported the measure, which went to court for lawsuits, thus avoiding the GOP’s scrutiny of both legislative chambers.
The decision obviously opens the door to potential fraud as ballot papers in unsecured mailboxes could be tampered with or stolen. “This ruling is not aimed at ensuring fair elections – it is about allowing a party to steal this election,” two senior Republican lawmakers said in a statement.
Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also made some curious decisions. A friend from Jersey sent me a mailer which he received addressed to “Residential Client” only.
Inside, a pamphlet from the Bergen County Chancellor said an order from Murphy “requires” every county to send a ballot paper to “every active registered voter.” This increases the chances of thousands of unmarked cards being stolen from the post office or front porches, practices not exactly unheard of in New Jersey.
In fact, a recent Post story revealed the dirty tricks and fraud committed by a longtime Dem agent in the state, who claims that mailing cards are a goldmine for those who want to cheat.
This becomes even easier with the new rules. Jersey voters can send their ballots back, hand them over to polling stations by November 3, or put them in those vulnerable mailboxes scattered around each county.
In what appears to be an invitation to manipulation, the booklet also promises that if a ballot is rejected due to a “missing or discrepant signature”, the voter will be contacted and offered a chance to “cure the defect” according to the rules. “established” by the secretary of state.
Then there was this Associated Press story from Atlanta: “In a presidential election year, there’s always a push to get people to register to vote. For an Atlanta family, that push got a little interesting.
“Ron Tims said he checked his mail Wednesday and found a voter registration application addressed to Cody Tims, his cat, who died 12 years ago.”
Grading a cat is one thing, but a dead cat? The secretary of state said he had nothing to do with the demand, blaming “out-of-town activists” who tried to register voters in hopes of influencing the election. How comforting it is.
While most of these decisions are related to the coronavirus, the potential for cheating and errors multiplies when voters are never required to show up in person to register or vote. Most state systems are not designed to handle mass mail-order voting, which is why the decisions to create new, extra-lenient rules on the fly are so troubling.
The argument that every vote should count is valid only to the extent that the identity of every voter has been verified. This is especially important in states and municipalities that allow non-citizens, including illegal immigrants, to vote in local elections.
It would be a crime if they voted in federal elections, if they got caught. But with the guardrails removed, who will get them?
As it is certain that controversy will emerge over how and which votes will be counted in November, Trump and Joe Biden are loading up with lawyers ready to fight it in the swinging states.
The approach makes it almost certain that some cases will go to federal courts and one or more likely will go to the high court.
While it might seem like a no-brainer for Democrats to stand up to a Trump candidate for life as they aim to win the White House and Senate, the prospect of a Supreme Court stuck on elections poses an unacceptable danger to the entire nation. The elections must be seen as fair and final if Americans are to maintain what little faith we still have in our government institutions.