The Supreme Court and American Democracy

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral argument as to whether a state legislature has authority to set election rules, including flagrantly partisan gerrymandering of voting districts, without regard to the state’s constitution or subject to review by the state’s courts. The Supreme Court has already declined to strike down partisan gerrymandering, so a ruling ascribing such power to state legislatures would be tantamount to allowing a dominant political party to cement permanent control over a state’s government through gerrymandering and other election rules preferential to that party, thereby stripping away a fundamental principle of our democracy. Because the Supreme Court is controlled by right-wing ideologues who have demonstrated their willingness to interpret the Constitution in a way that reflects their deep-seated preferences, there’s a chance that this is what will happen. Democracy came out fighting and looked good after the last round of elections, but we can’t be sure that the Supreme Court won’t land a punch that will knock it back on the ropes.