At a hearing last month, at least three Justices of the Supreme Court seemed bent on giving state legislators a new power to blow up state constitutional safeguards of safe elections. This may well pave the way for laws such as one proposed by Arizona Republican Shawnna Bolick, which would have allowed the state Legislature “at any time” to “revoke” the certification of a presidential election.
These three judges may not get their way entirely, but they nonetheless reflect a larger trend: In the past few decades, the court has moved decisively away from its democracy-enabling moves of the 1960s and 1970s — shaking up malapportioned legislatures, voiding voting and ballot-access restrictions, and protecting parties’ First Amendment rights.
From voter suppression to gerrymandering, a majority of the justices have organized election law around the “Matthew effect”: To everyone who has, more will be given. Those who have political power get to perpetuate it through redistricting, drowning out small-dollar donors or limiting access to the ballot box. From Florida to Illinois, professional politicians have used the decennial redistricting of 2020 to dig themselves and their parties into power.
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