Ketanji Brown Jackson, Voting Rights Champion?

Among many reasons to support the nomination of Supreme Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the recognition of voting as a personal fundamental right is often overlooked. If he follows his rulings, that understanding will instantly make him better than the current judges.

During Jackson’s confirmation hearing, Democratic Senator Alex Padilla of California asked Jackson for his views on the role of the Supreme Court in protecting the right to vote — and so is our democracy. His response was poignant: “The right to vote is protected by our constitution,” he told Padilla, a former secretary of state whose job was to oversee the California election.

Jackson’s statement should be controversial. But several conservative justices have highlighted (a Bush v. Upstairs And other decisions) that the Constitution does not explicitly grant the right to vote. These judges have underestimated the personal right to vote by focusing on the will of a state to conduct elections. This approach often leaves voters behind by approving restrictive rules in the name of electoral integrity, even when there is no real integrity concern. Conservative justices have clearly forgotten that the court has firmly established the right to vote within the same protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In addition, the Constitution explicitly prohibits states from denying or restricting the right to vote on the basis of certain characteristics, including race, gender, inability to pay voting tax, or being over 18 years of age.

At the hearing, Jackson elaborated: “The Constitution makes it clear that no one can be discriminated against in their voting practice. And Congress, using its constitutional authority, has enacted many laws aimed at protecting the vote. The judge then allowed that “also … there are laws that are not only about ensuring access to the vote but also to ensure it. [there] Voting is not fraud. “Most importantly, the judge acknowledged that the Supreme Court recognized the right to vote as a” fundamental right. “Such fundamental rights require strong protection against state occupation. If voting is a fundamental right, states must have the right to vote. A very strong argument has to be presented to summarize, otherwise it will not pass the constitutional scrutiny.

Unfortunately, many of the current judges do not share this opinion. Their rulings have failed to protect voters, instead unnecessarily delaying state voting rules. In the run-up to the 2020 elections, numerous district courts and appellate courts have ruled in favor of easing voting restrictions due to the epidemic, with only the Supreme Court reversing those decisions. Respects the state legislature and uses various arguments regarding the timing of the case (so-called) Parcel Policy), the majority of the court was clear that it was not a fan of the personal right to vote. Further, the court issued judgments that reduced judicial scrutiny for reviewing the limits of the right to vote, undermined the protections of the right to vote law, and made it difficult for suffrage lawyers to win their claims. At almost every turn, the courts have mistreated the right to vote.

Even Justice Stephen Brayer, who has been nominated to replace Jackson and for whom he has been clerk, has a precedent for voting. Last week, the court issued an unsigned order rejecting a restructuring map imposed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which would increase minority representation, a key goal of the suffrage law. In this “shadow docket” ruling, the court appears to have downplayed the right to vote for minorities. Only Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who were vocal against the court’s unfavorable voting rights, cited dissent — that is, Breyer either agreed with the majority or silently disagreed without publicly recording his vote. This indifferent attitude is no way to deal with the Supreme Court majority’s attack on the right to vote.

To be fair, Breyer has joined others in dissenting about harming voters, but he has not been a bold voice in the area: for example, he expressed a slight dissent in a 2008 suffrage case. Crawford v. Marion County Selection Board. Inside Crawford, A party of voters and the Indiana Democratic Party have challenged the state’s strict voter ID law, arguing that it violates their constitutional right to vote. In a split opinion, the court refused to strike the state’s ID requirements, saying the challengers did not prove it would violate the constitution. In his dissent, Breyer wrote that Indiana did not support his law in that case. He added, however, that the Photo ID Act could be constitutional unless they hurt too many voters. (Another liberal-leaning justice, the late John Paul Stevens, wrote a preliminary opinion that refused to repeal Indiana law, acknowledging the state’s vested interests in protecting voter fraud যদিও although the state provided no evidence of actual fraud or any connection. In safety.) Assuming he would be true to his views on the fundamental importance of the right to vote, Jackson would join Cagan and Sotomayor as strong voices on these issues, not as restrained as Brayer and Stevens.

Of course, we cannot predict how Jackson will rule in a given case or issue. In his opening remarks at the confirmation hearing, the 51-year-old lawyer promised to “decide the case from a neutral standpoint.” Like most nominees, he has consistently reaffirmed his fidelity to justice and precedent. And he has not issued any major suffrage decision as a district court or the Court of Appeals. Justice Amy Connie Barrett further noted that the right to vote was “fundamental” during her confirmation hearing in 2020. Yet he has consistently joined the conservative branch of the court, failing to protect his right to vote. It is one thing to repeat the stinginess of voting as a fundamental right; It is another thing to put it into practice when states violate the right to vote.

At the risk of our electoral institutions, the Supreme Court must vigorously protect the right to vote. Once confirmed (something that is certain but certain), Jackson will not change the ideological balance on the court, but hopefully he will join a united voice with Sotomayor and Cagan that promotes the highest respect for the most important right of our democracy.

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