This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published September 4, 2016 by The Washington Times.
The absence of Justice Antonin Scalia continues to be felt as the Supreme Court lurches ever leftward on key cases. Because the Court is evenly divided along ideological lines, its 4-to-4 votes leave mostly liberal lower court rulings intact.
Recent examples include upholding racial quotas at the University of Texas, killing a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to have basic medical standards, and eviscerating voter ID laws in several states.
Last Wednesday, the Court refused to reinstate North Carolina’s voter ID law or even parts of it, upholding the Fourth Circuit’s ruling that the law is discriminatory in intent, if not effect.
Attorney Paul Clement, representing the state, asked the Court to reinstate three provisions: requiring voters to present any of eight forms of identification; reducing early voting from 17 days to 10 days, and ending “pre-registration” in which 16-year-olds could preregister even when not eligible to vote in the next election. In a ruling written by Stephen Breyer, the Court declined.
Despite an increase in minority turnout in the 2014 election following the law’s 2013 enactment, the four liberal members of the Court consulted their Ouija Board of Racism and discovered bigotry deep in the hearts of Republican legislators and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed it.
Marc Elias, general counsel for the campaign of Hillary Clinton, who needs to win this swing state, tweeted that the ruling was a “big win for NC voters.” Well, it was for those who prefer loose standards over election integrity.
Not everyone was celebrating the Court’s telepathic abilities.
“North Carolina has been denied basic voting rights already granted to more than 30 other states to protect the integrity of one person, one vote,” said Mr. McCrory, who is also under fire from the media, slavishly PC corporations and other progressive bullies for backing a “bathroom” law barring biological males from using women’s restrooms and locker rooms. Even the National Basketball Association has joined the mob, canceling its 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.
Perhaps the National Football League’s ashamed-of-America quarterback Colin Kaepernick could join the protest by barging into a women’s restroom at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte when his San Francisco 49ers play the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 18. You know, as a sign of solidarity with the men in dresses and others who want to “transform America.”
Meanwhile, federal officials might just swoop down on the voting precincts of North Carolina and many other states during the November elections in the name of “national security.”
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson wants to designate the nation’s election machinery as “critical infrastructure” like the financial sector, the power grid and 11 other areas because there is “a vital national interest in our electoral process.”
He floated the idea in a conference call with secretaries of state on August 15 following an FBI report that foreign interests had hacked voter registration systems of two states — Arizona and Illinois. Mr. Johnson did admit when asked that there is “no” evidence of any credible threat.
The thought of foreigners tampering with American elections is scary until you think about how we vote. There is no national system; each polling place operates independently of other polling places, even in the same towns. It’s not like the electric “grid,” which encompasses vast areas.
Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, sees a possibly darker agenda at work, given the Obama Administration’s aggressive moves to undermine state election safeguards such as voter ID laws.
“[It] may be a way for the administration to get Justice Department lawyers, the FBI, and DHS staff into polling places they would otherwise have no legal right to access, which would enable them to interfere with election administration procedures around the country,” he said.
In several high-profile cases, hackers have accessed the Office of Personnel Management’s files and the Democratic National Committee’s e-mails.
“But all of those computer systems have direct access to the internet,” Mr. von Spakovsky wrote in Conservative Review. “That is not the case with almost all of our voting and ballot-counting processes. We have the most decentralized election system of any Western democracy, with over 3,000 counties and numerous townships running elections. There is no central computer system running our national elections and the computer ballots used to total votes are almost all standalone computers.”
As the November elections approach, we just might be cast as the “mark” in a high-stakes shell game; we’re distracted by non-threats from geeks abroad while real threats to election integrity are landing every day courtesy of mind-reading judges who kill common-sense safeguards like voter ID laws.