The Koch brothers controlled branch of the Supreme Court of the United States, granted Jon Husted’s wish to uphold the Republicans restrictions on early voting in Ohio.
From a legal perspective, there is room to suggest that since Husted “only” rolled back early voting by a week, it isn’t a big deal. In fact, there is room to argue that doesn’t really hinder people’s voting rights since other states have shorter early voting periods or no early voting at all. However, if one looks at the developments in election law over the past several years, there is no doubt that restrictions on the vote are definitely occurring, even if it is on an incremental basis.
Here is the Court’s order:
Technically, this is a temporary order. An order like this one isn’t supposed to be an indicator of how the court would rule on the issues in this case. Also, it is worth noting again that this reduces early voting by a week, but doesn’t eliminate it all together.
Still, we know the “conservative” wing of the Supreme Court grants unfettered civil rights to corporations while choosing to look upon the rights of human beings in the narrowest possible way. Examples include the rulings on Citizens United, Hobby Lobby and Shelby v. Holder.
This divide is reflected in what is supposed to be an administrative order. It’s only supposed to say, we’re putting a hold on this law until the courts sort out the legal issues. Typically, you don’t see partisan divisions on orders like this one. However, the fact that there is a 5-4 split along ideological lines suggests we are seeing same division that occurred in Shelby v. Holder and we will probably see again when the Court considers vote suppression laws.
As Rick Hasen said in his analysis of the order,
But now if the Supreme Court reads both the Equal Protection Clause and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act very narrowly in the Ohio case, it is bad news all around and in cases where the changes matter more.
There is reasoning to feel a sense of doom over this order because the way the SCOTUS chooses to interpret the Equal Protection Clause and Section 2 of the Voting rights will influence how the court rules on the vote suppression laws of Texas and North Carolina. In other words, the Court is using the Ohio case to establish a new “precedent” in its interpretation of the Equal Protect Clause and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. It will then apply that “precedent” when the vote suppression laws of Texas and North Carolina land on the docket.
Simply put, Liberal judges interpret the Equal Protection Clause and Section 2 of the Voting rights Act more broadly in the spirit of recognizing that free and fair elections means all eligible citizens have equal opportunity and access to the vote. Conservative judges tend to interpret civil rights (for people) from the narrowest perspective possible while looking upon the same rights more broadly when the “civil rights” of a corporation are at stake.
We saw the concrete consequences of this interpretative differences in the Supreme Court’s rulings on affirmative action as well as in the case that put the Voting Rights Act on life support. By weakening section 2, the Supreme Court will deal the final blow to the Voting Rights Act.
Poll taxes thinly disguised as “voter ID” requirements, reduced voting hours, out of the way and inaccessible voting locations disproportionately make voting harder for visible minorities. However, Republicans and their supporters on the bench will deny that this is about disenfranchising people based on their race (or gender, age and socio-economic status) claiming this is really about maneuvering the electoral system to make conditions more favorable to Republicans.
Still, the results remain the same. Conservatives are out to disenfranchise everyone with the exception of rich, white, male Republicans. The Koch brothers controlled wing of the Supreme Court, is setting the stage to give constitutional “legitimacy” to mass disenfranchisement of racial minorities, women, the poor, the old and the young.
Image: Factivists Democrats