There may yet be hope for all of us, even as “president” Donald Trump tries to pack the courts with his unqualified picks. Many judges still exist who follow the rule of law and not the wannabe dictator who gave them lifetime jobs they don’t deserve. Politico magazine tells such a story. The best news is that, according to the Politico article, federal appellate courts are attacking the national conservative agenda in rulings that impact the ability of low-income people to secure health care and for former felons to exercise their right to vote.
In 2013, the governor of Arkansas expanded Medicaid under the ACA to provide access to healthcare to more low-income people. A new law was introduced by Republicans in 2020 that set ridiculous requirements for Medicaid recipients including requiring those aged 19-49 to work 80 hours per month to receive Medicaid. On its face, that doesn’t sound unreasonable, but what if you’re disabled and can’t work? What if you can’t get a job? What happens to them? Republicans certainly don’t care. The justice who wrote the unanimous opinion overturning this rule was David Sentelle, a Reagan appointee. The Court ruled that Medicaid is governed by Congress, and it will be applied as so governed. In his opinion, Judge Sentelle pointed directly at Republicans and their lack of concern for others: “Nodding to concerns . . . only to dismiss them in a conclusory manner is not a hallmark of reasoned decision making.” No, it’s more like discriminatory decision making.
In Florida, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Florida’s attempts to block felons from voting based on their ability to “pay all fines, fees and restitution imposed as part of the sentence.” These people just got out of prison. So, how are they supposed to pay this? Did the Florida legislature even consider the “how” before coming up with such a rule? No. We know that minorities make up most convicted felons. Imposing this rule keeps them from voting, which Republicans assume will be Democratic votes.
Florida voters approved the amendment allowing felons to vote upon completion of their sentences, which will add 1.4 million—mostly African Americans—to the voting rolls. Gasp! All these black folks voting would be a disaster. At least that’s the way Republicans see it. Forget about the will of the people who voted to overturn this law. They don’t count, right? The 11th Circuit, comprised of one Reagan appointee and two Carter appointees, ruled that the “add-on” rule created by Republicans “punishes those who cannot pay more harshly than those who can—and does so by continuing to deny them access to the ballot box.”
This behavior is not only discriminatory but serves to continuously illustrate how Republicans want to rule their way and leave the rest of us out. Thank God these judges remain on the bench to keep things on a more equal footing, such as the gerrymandering laws that have been recently overturned in North Carolina, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Allow the people to vote as they wish. Next, we need to overturn the electoral college and allow the person with the most votes to win, which reflects the will of the greatest number of people. It’s just that simple.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years