Opinion

Democrats Tip Their Hand: Part of Plan to Pack Supreme Court Is About HR1

One clear message coming out of a Thursday news conference in which Democrats unveiled their court packing scheme is that it is about the future of how elections are conducted in the United States.

House Democrats passed House Resolution 1, the For the People Act, with no Republican support last month. The legislation is now before the Senate for consideration.

HR 1 would do away with voter ID laws in 34 states and mandate same-day voter registration, ballot harvesting, absentee ballots being accepted up to 10 days after Election Day and automatic voter registration, while restoring felons’ rights to vote, among other provisions.

Basically, it federally mandates all the voter law changes that have helped to turn California into essentially a one-party state.

At Thursday’s news conference, Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who is a sponsor of the Judiciary Act of 2021 which would expand the Supreme Court from nine justices to 13, listed voting rights as a main reason for why the current composition of the bench must be changed.

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“The United States Supreme Court is broken, it is out of balance and it needs to be fixed,” he asserted.

“The harm that that court is going to be able to do across a whole range of issues — voting rights, women’s right to choose, environmental issues, issue after issue — are now in jeopardy,” the senator said.

Markey further stipulated that to save American democracy, “We must expand the court and we must abolish the filibuster to do it.”

Fellow Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York went into much greater detail regarding why voting rights — as understood by the Democratic Party — are a main reason to pack the Supreme Court.

Do you think packing the court is in part about allowing HR 1 to be implemented?

“I wish we didn’t have a far-right Supreme Court majority that is hostile to democracy itself, but here we are,” Jones said. “And the fact is if we want to save our democracy, we must act before it is too late by restoring balance to the Supreme Court.”

The congressman made references to voter integrity laws being passed in states like Georgia and Texas, characterizing them as a revival of Jim Crow.

“Our democracy faces its greatest test since Jim Crow. From the insurrection at the Capitol to the racist voter suppression being attempted all throughout the United States of America, the far right is at war with our democracy,” Jones said.

HR 1 would override key aspects of Georgia’s and presumably other states’ voter integrity laws, or alternatively, a Biden-packed Supreme Court would likely strike laws liberals did not approve of down.

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“The Roberts court has been working to dismantle our democracy for years,” Jones contended. “One decision at a time, the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court has unraveled the greatest achievements of the civil rights movement to produce a government that does not look like, understand or even pretend to represent the American people.”

First, it’s not the job of Supreme Court justices to represent the people, but instead to uphold the rule of law under the Constitution.

Additionally, it’s strange that Jones would make this argument about dismantling democracy even as the Democratic Party gained control of the presidency, the Senate and held the House of Representatives as a result of the 2020 election.

To the consternation of conservatives, the “right-wing” Supreme Court rejected (without hearings) challenges brought concerning how states like Pennsylvania and Michigan failed to follow their own election laws last fall.

Jones released an online ad making some of these same points he made at Thursday’s news conference.

HR 1 is clearly unconstitutional, and hopefully, at least five justices on the current court would see it that way if it ever were to become law.

Articles I and II of the Constitution grant the states power to conduct elections.

Further, as Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has pointed out when the federal government has sought to make major changes to nationwide election laws in the past, it has done so through the amendment process.

These changes have included the 15th (providing that voting rights would not be denied based on race), 17th (elaborating on how U.S. senators are elected), 19th (giving women the right to vote) and 26th (lowering the voting age to 18) amendments.

The Democrats have clearly tipped their hand. Packing the Supreme Court is not about “saving our democracy.” Rather, it’s about removing any check on their political power, including the implementation of HR 1.

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