In Oaklandsocialist’s recent article “Will There Be A Coup?” we explored the various factors that would tend towards a “yes” and a “no” answer. This article homes in a little more about the attitude of the Supreme Court majority. It should be read as an addition to that earlier article.
Several rulings help shed a little bit of light on where these (in)Justices are at.
1965 Voting Rights Act
In 2013 the Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act. They threw out the section that requires preapproval from the federal government to any changes in state voting law for nine different states. These are states that have a history of racial discrimination when it comes to voting rights. The five (in)Justices who voted to strike it down claimed that things have changed in the US and that racism is no longer so alive.
In 2021 the Supreme Court majority went further and allowed a new Arizona law that prohibits somebody from collecting absentee ballots from several voters and taking them in to a ballot box. This prohibition especially affected Indian voters in the state, many of whom live far from ballot boxes and lack transportation to get there.
In other words, legal attacks on the right to vote is perfectly acceptable to the Supreme Court’s Republican majority.
Court’s Ruling on Trump’s Executive Privilege
Then, on January 9 of this year (just a few weeks ago), the Supreme Court issued a serious defeat to Donald Trump. By an 8-1 majority (Clarence Thomas dissenting), they ruled that the US federal archive may turn over some 700 pages of documents to the House January 6 investigating committee. These are documents that would help to show what role the Trump administration played in last year’s January 6 riot/coup attempt. Trump & Co. had sued, claiming that those documents represented “executive privilege”, meaning that the executive branch of the government has the right to have confidential discussions among themselves. The court accepted that it’s the current president, not a past president, who determines whether executive privilege applies. That this is legally correct is irrelevant, since their rulings on the covid vaccine mandate simply invented new legal theories.
Basically, what the Republican (in)Justices have done through their twists and turns is serve notice that they find voter suppression and vote nullification perfectly acceptable, as long as it is done through the law. What they find unacceptable is any violent attempt to overturn “normal” democratic procedures, such as what happened in 2021.
This coincides completely with the position of the Republican Party’s “moderates” like Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Mitt Romney. These “moderates” all voted in favor of the second impeachment of Trump – the one stemming from his role in January 6, 2021. However, they are all united in their opposition to the present “Freedom to Vote Act”. This act would make voter suppression and vote nullification more difficult by prohibiting many of the new state laws along these lines (such as the ones in Georgia and Texas).
It’s okay to legally stop people from voting and to legally nullify votes; it’s just not okay to organize a riot to throw out the results of an election once the votes have all been counted. That is their position. As far as the Democrats, the majority wing insists on trying to revive their long term partnership with the Republicans – “bipartisanship”. The “progressive” or liberal wing is silent on the matter, meaning they are perfectly willing to go along with this.
The domination of Trumpism in the Republican Party is not simply a matter of one individual – Trump. He is an accelrant of processes that have been under way for many years, but he is not the cause. The Democrats’ hopes of reviving that partnership through reviving the “moderate” wing of the Republican Party are born of the fact that it is this partnership, this past collaboration between the two parties, that has been so fundamental to US stability over the decades.
What comes next nobody knows, but until and unless the US working class starts to play an independent role, the dangers are immense.