A Singular Failure of Judicial Judgement

What Happened in Wisconsin is a Call to Arms


This is Not an Especially Complicated Story

Wisconsin had a primary this week. The governor sought to maximize voting by mail. He considered postponing the primary, as have many other states in the midst of this pandemic.

No hyperbole here – people who had to vote in person put their lives – and those of poll workers – at very real risk. This is a no brainer, right? Not so fast.

The Republican legislature blocked any moves to improve safety while encouraging voting. The state supreme court also vetoed any such steps. This is a court full of appointees from the last Republican administration. This was an administration that was dedicated to voter suppression. They especially liked mass purging of the roles. Their court appointees shared this view.

And finally, the US Supreme Court, also gave the citizens of Wisconsin a clear message. If they wanted to vote, they would have to put lives at risk. The court did so, of course, by a 5-4 vote. It is that simple a conclusion – vote at your own risk, citizen.

The People Would Not Be Denied

 And so, the people of Wisconsin broadly chose to exercise their right to vote anyway. They were telling those who would stop them, F*@# You. They did not do so easily or casually. People stood in line for hours, as many polling places did not open.

Milwaukee normally has about 180 polling places open for an election. On Tuesday, they had 5. People waited to vote. Many absentee ballots would come in late. Under th court ruling, that meant thousands would not count.

This is insane, and one of the clearest benchmarks of why elections matter. You say both parties are unacceptable? Do you envision a Democratic legislature or a properly constituted court doing this? No, one cannot envision that. There is no legal ground to make these decisions moral or practicable.

So, This is Where We Are

Lest anyone misses the point: politicians and judges chose voter suppression over voter rights. They chose political expedience over human lives. That our country has sunk this low is stunning, even in the age of Trump.

It does not get much worse than this. I cannot imagine a more craven misuse of power than this. Although I am certain we will see more to come that will make even this look mild in comparison.

What is going on is crystal clear. Republicans think they benefit from low voter turnout. They are willing, eager even, to risk lives to get that result. Let that sink in.

Lessons (Re)Learned

o Elections matter. In states that elect judges, they matter on another, important level.

o Republicans are, and have been for a very long time, in the voter suppression mode. We see it over and over again, in state after state. Vote Republican and you vote unamerican. Sorry folks, but there it is. You cannot isolate this conduct.

o This is a crucial fight for the November election. A push is underway for nationwide standards and good access to vote by mail balloting. SEN. Amy Klobuchar is leading this fight in Congress.

Many states have been doing this for years. The results are excellent: high turnout, low costs, and effectively zero fraud. The time has come to make this a national model.

Yet the Republicans are fighting this with all their might. Why? Check out what Mr. Trump said just a few days ago on Fox.

“The things they had in there were crazy,” he said, referring to one of the Democratic proposals. “They had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Yep, if you let everyone vote, the Republicans will lose. Can’t have that, can we?

Our Turn

This may well prove to be the defining issue of the coming national election. Democrats at all levels need to fight with all they have to make mail-in voting happen everywhere.

This blog has pointed out this works well in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Don’t take no for answer. Even if supporting this needs to be embedded in the next COVID-19 relief bill, make it happen.

The Republicans have used these tactics over and over to steal elections. Last year we saw it most flagrantly in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina – and in dozens of other places.

No more. We are either a practicing democracy or a sham imitation. Fix this or not much else will get fixed, either.

        Bill Clontz

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5 replies to A Singular Failure of Judicial Judgement

  1. Right on! This tactic is both shameful and criminal. It is hard to believe that any so-called Republican can look themselves in the mirror!

    • Yes, I really hesitated over that un-American remark in the text – not useful to villify the opposition, but we really have crossed into a space of immorality. I actually miss the old Republican party! I often disagreed with it, but at least it stood for something. No longer.

  2. From Paul Krugman in the New York Times: “This November, it’s all too possible that Trump will eke out an Electoral College win thanks to widespread voter suppression. If he does — or even if he wins cleanly — everything we’ve seen suggests that he will use a second term to punish everyone he sees as a domestic enemy, and that his party will back him all the way. That is, America will do a full Hungary.”


    • That is a real risk. If we dont all fight suppression tooth and nail, and work like dogs on turnout all is at risk.


  3. This is important!

    Anyone living in Arizona, as I do, can vote by mail and I have encouraged my followers on Facebook & Twitter to do so.

    Thanks you for this. I have refused to vote for any Republican since the raise of the Tea Party.

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