This election cycle has been stained by some of the most cynical and anti-democratic legal maneuvers ever perpetrated on the American public. Over the past few years, in states where Republican governors assumed power, they quickly set about abusing their position in order to corrupt the democratic process and deny citizens the right to vote.
The methods used by the GOP included partisan redistricting, inhibiting registration, curtailing early voting, purges of voter rolls, and discriminatory voter ID procedures. Most of these gambits were described by conservatives as prudent measures to protect against voter fraud. However, they were never able to demonstrate that voter fraud was a problem calling out for a solution. In fact, experts have conducted studies that proved that such fraud was nearly non-existent. In the meantime, these new policies resulted in millions of legitimate citizens being at risk for losing their access to the ballot. In almost every instance it was Democratic-leaning constituencies who were adversely affected: minorities, seniors, students, and those with low-income.
Fortunately, these oppressors were challenged by civil libertarians and grassroots activists who took the vote-killers to court. The result has been an unprecedented string of legal victories that are restoring the Constitutional rights of citizens who want to participate in their democracy. Today the Supreme Court refused to alter the ruling of an Ohio court that restored early voting to all residents. Here is a list showing that and other recent court rulings that have put the brakes on the Republican initiative to suppress the vote:
- Supreme Court Leaves Early Voting In Place In Ohio
- Judge blocks Pennsylvania voter ID law for November election
- South Carolina voter ID law blocked until 2013
- Texas voter-ID law is blocked
- Judge to lift restrictions on Florida voter registration
- Wisconsin high court won’t restore voter ID law before Election Day
- Iowa judge freezes voter-eligibility rules amid suit
The one message that can be derived from this is that the law is on the side of the people. When would-be tyrants strive to deny Americans their rights, the courts are a reliable resource for restoring the rule of law. Of course, this is not always the case, and there is still a lot of work to be done. And certainly the advocates of silencing the voice of the people have not terminated their efforts to shut citizens out of the process.
Amongst the most difficult fights ahead are the challenges to Citizen’s United, the court decision that paved the way for wealthy individuals and corporations to buy elections. If money is speech, as the Supreme Court ruled, then our Democracy is reduced to “one dollar, one vote,” and the rich get more speech than the rest of us. Corporations and multimillionaires should not have a greater voice in the government than the millions of citizens it was designed to serve.
Overturning Citizen’s United must be among the top priorities going forward. We will never be able to achieve our goals if we can’t have fair elections that represent the will of the people. As we approach election day, it is important to recognize that one of the best reasons for voting to reelect President Obama is to insure that the Supreme Court isn’t handed over to right-wing extremists who will dilute our civil liberties.