It’s a Busy Week of Destruction For Republicans: SCOTUS To Hear Argument in Two Big Cases

This week Republican lawyers will be busy arguing two important cases before the Supreme Court.  On Monday, they hope to strike another blow at our dying democracy.  The plan for Wednesday is to take another whack at killing the ACA, or Obamacare.

As Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said on many occasions, Citizens United was the worst decision made by the Roberts Court.  That ruling combined with McCutcheon v. the FCC enabled rich individuals to buy lawmakers at all levels of government.  Both rulings  introduced structural changes to change our  political system to one in which government is bought and controlled by a handful of people.

The Supreme Court dealt a second blow to free and fair elections when it gutted the Voting Rights Act.  While efforts to suppress the vote were evident before that ruling, it became more blatant and pronounced once the SCOTUS nodded in approval of efforts to silence identifiable groups of people who are least likely to support the Republican Party’s far right wing agenda.

Now Republicans are back at the Supreme Court seeking to secure their “right” to gerrymander.  In reality, gerrymandering serves two objectives.  On one hand, it enables Republicans to secure majorities in legislatures without support from the majority of voters.  On the other, gerrymandering provides a fig leaf of “legitimacy” to guarantee that result.  We still have “elections” just with enough “safe” Republican seats to guarantee their perpetual hold on power.

In an effort to counteract the effects of gerrymandering lawmakers in Arizona, California and several other states decided to establish independent districting commissions to redraw the districts.

Previously the court refused to consider lawsuits that challenge excessive partisanship in redistricting or gerrymandering.

The Obama administration said that independent commissions such as the one in Arizona “may be the only meaningful check” left to states that care about competitive elections, reduced political polarization and bringing fresh faces to the political process.

However, Republicans in Arizona are asking the Roberts Court to get rid of these commissions.  After all, that would mean Republicans would have to go back to earning votes in what were once safe districts.  It means they “have to” represent the people who elected them.  It means they lose the freedom to openly express contempt for women, racial minorities, religious minorities, gays, poor people and anyone else who rejects the Koch agenda.

On Wednesday, Republicans will return to the Supreme Court – this time to use four words in the ACA to take healthcare away from millions of Americans.  In essence, Republican lawyers are trying to argue in King v. Burwell that the ACA was designed to penalize states that don’t create exchanges by denying federal subsidies to residents of those states. To put it mildly, questions have been raised about the plaintiffs’ standing in this case.  That alone should be a basis to dismiss the case.

If for some reason the Court chooses to ignore the issue of standing to look at the merits, Republican lawyers would have to persuade the court to look exclusively at these words four words: “established by the state.” to the exclusion of everything else in the law. Republicans want the court to believe those four words mean only people in states that established their own exchanges are eligible for federal subsidies.  They want the court to ignore other clauses in the 2000 page law that suggest the real intent was to assure subsidies to people who need them, regardless of where they live. To succeed, Republican lawyers would also have to convince the Court to ignore the expressed intent of lawmakers.

To grant Republicans a ruling in their favor, sympathetic Justices on the Supreme Court would be in tension with the canons of construction.

Of course, that has little meaning to the conservatives on the Roberts Court who believe in ideology first, constitution second.

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