The Trump Supreme Court is ruling based on radical ideology and partisanship as well as preempting other branches of government and poses an imminent threat to our democracy as it stands, widely respected expert on the United States Congress Norm Ornstein warned on Thursday after the Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law restricting concealed carry.
Ornstein sees a most “ominous harbinger” in this court’s decision, concluding that it’s reasonable to expect “If Republicans move to manipulate electoral votes in 2024, it is very likely the Alito Court will let them get away with it”.
Full thread (bold mine):
We now have a Supreme Court that is moving every aspect of our society in a radical direction, blowing up any reasonable reading of the Constitution to fit its radical ideological and partisan views. It spits on the actions of legislatures and preempts the other branches. 1
The Framers did not expect the judiciary to be the dominant branch of government. The Court has justices jammed onto the bench by violations of fundamental norms, dishonest in their confirmations and untethered to any precedent. Congress can curtail its jurisdiction and more. 2
The Alito Court, with the regular connivance of a Chief Justice who lied himself in his confirmation hearing about precedent and calling balls and strikes with Citizens United, has lost its fundamental legitimacy. This is a genuine crisis for the country. Another one! 3
It also suggests an ominous harbinger. If Republicans move to manipulate electoral votes in 2024, it is very likely the Alito Court will let them get away with it, using the radical interpretation that state courts have no role in enforcing state constitutions or laws. 4
That state legislatures are supreme and unlimited in choosing electors. We are moving closer and closer to a version of Hungary, but with the elements of a Wild West added in.
This is hardly a radical thought on Ornstein’s part, specifically after Greg Jacob, Pence’s former general counsel, made clear in 1/6 Committee testimony that John Eastman expected this court to do just that:
“But he thought that we could do so because in his view, the Electoral Count Act was unconstitutional and when I raised concerns that the position likely lose in court, his view was that the court simply wouldn’t get involved. They would invoke the political question doctrine and therefore we could have some comfort proceeding with that path,” then Vice President’s general counsel Greg Jacob testified on June 16, 2021.”
I wrote then, “The issue is that Eastman seems quite right about that assessment. This Supreme Court is already systemically unraveling freedoms and one of its justices is married to a radical activist who played an active role in this plot to violate the law by stealing the election.”
And now, post-states can’t dictate gun laws but soon expected this court will suggest they can dictate healthcare decisions for women by banning life-saving abortions, this threat is crystal clear.
Ornstein writes that the U.S. is moving closer to Hungary. Hungary is one of the countries I wrote about in a piece on soft authoritarianism:
In studying how democracies die and the global rise of authoritarianism, one consistent element is that if it’s done well, people don’t really know. It becomes a simulated democracy. Fewer than a fifth of the world’s people now live in fully free countries, according to a Freedom House report from March of 2021.
Freedom House found, “Authoritarian actors grew bolder during 2020 as major democracies turned inward, contributing to the 15th consecutive year of decline in global freedom… The report found that the share of countries designated Not Free has reached its highest level since the deterioration of democracy began in 2006…
The United States was downgraded. We were labeled a “troubled democracy.”
“…in recent decades, a less carnivorous form of authoritarian government has emerged, one better adapted to the globalized media and sophisticated technologies of the 21st Century,” Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman posited in their November 2015 draft of “How Modern Dictators Survive:An Informational Theory of the New Authoritarianism.”
“From the Peru of Alberto Fujimori to the Hungary of Viktor Orban, illiberal regimes have managed to consolidate power without isolating their countries from the world economy or resorting to mass killings.”
We are moving toward a simulated democracy, if not mostly there or already there.
This is happening specifically because the Republican Party is grabbing power under false pretenses, even willing to violate the law and attack the foundation of democracy as we are seeing in the 1/6 hearings.
This is happening because Republicans are so extreme that they can’t win national elections. It’s happening because Trump installed at least one unvetted and one unqualified hack to the Supreme Court, which already had several radical conservative activists spoiling it.
This is happening because a Supreme Court justice is married to someone who played an active role in trying to steal the votes of over 80 plus million people and isn’t even recusing himself on matters that could expose her.
This Supreme Court is not a legitimate court. They refuse to hold themselves to basic ethics rules. They are not meant to override other branches of government, and are operating as a monarchy.
The problem facing those of us who long to save the great experiment of American democracy is the prescription. How do we fix what ails this court without attacking the foundations of democracy ourselves?
The time for debate about this is over, as the court is signaling its attack on democracy won’t be constrained by piddly irrelevant things like the U.S. Constitution or the rule of law.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.