“How the Supreme Court Curtailed The Right To Vote For Thousands” is the New York Times headline about the Wisconsin elections fiasco this month. The headline is misleading and inflammatory, insinuating that the Court majority aided and abetted a Republican effort to suppress votes. In fact, the majority, headed by Justice Kavanaugh, followed the law. I don’t know if Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasanti, who wrote the story, actually read the opinion they are criticizing. I wouldn’t bet my life on it.
Luckily, Professor Turley was irritated about this, and explained why the narrative was garbage ten days ago. In a blog post titled, “No, The Supreme Court Did Not Just Help Rig The Wisconsin Election,” Turley wrote in part (but read it all):
…The decision of the Supreme Court to reverse the decision of a district court judge on extending the voting for the Wisconsin election this week has generated breathless headlines and comparisons to the Bush v. Gore decision in the 2000 elections. Such hyperbolic language aside, the decision was actually quite narrow and well-supported. Moreover, the dissent is chastising the majority for denying relief that the Wisconsin Democrats never requested from the District Court in their original preliminary injunction motion.
Translation: the minority, made up of Democratic appointees, were taking a partisan position based on politics, exactly what the Times reporters accused the conservative majority of doing.
The issue in Republican National Committee v. Democratic National Committee was not whether an election would be held this week in Wisconsin. … the Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked Gov. Tony Evers’ late executive order postponing in-person voting in Tuesday’s elections — specifically postponing the state’s presidential primary and hundreds of local elections. Evers’ took the unilateral action after he was refused his request by a special legislative session…. Evers previously admitted that “my hands are tied” in ordering a delay of the election and the legislature would have to do so. It then proceeded to refuse to do so. Evers then declared that he had the authority after all.
Got that? The Governor fist said that he didn’t have the power, then reversed himself when the legislature, which did have the power, refused to do what he and his party wanted. But as Turley points out, he was right the first time, since “his authority was transparently weak…He does not have that express unilateral authority under existing law.”
Turley goes on to say that he agrees with the governor that holding the election posed “am unnecessary risk and forces citizens to choose between minimizing their exposure and declining to participate in the election. …However, this is ultimately a question for the state legislature.” If the law says it’s the legislature and only the legislature that can postpone an election, the fact that one party really really really wants it postponed doesn’t and can’t change the law, even if that party happens to be right.
OK, pay attention now, because this is a mess: Continue reading