Last month, the final flurry of opinions from the first Supreme Court term featuring three Trump-appointed justices — and a now-solid 6-3 conservative majority — was a head-scratcher with some strange-bedfellows decisions.
Four conservatives joined with the three liberal jurists to save Obamacare. The three Trump appointees agreed to limit the power of police to make warrantless searches. And in the most significant non-opinion of the month, the Court declined to reconsider a high school “bathroom” case: a victory for transgender rights.
Now, as I have suggested to my progressive clients, perhaps they were hiding their true colors to avert a renewed uproar for Court expansion while Democrats control Congress. But is it possible the newest justices are showing real independence from ideology or partisan politics?
That quaint notion was put to rest on July 1st with two lockstep conservative decisions that will further kill voting rights and open the door to more dark money in politics—strategic moves to put Republicans back in power.
In Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the Court approved policies that suppress minority voting in Arizona. And the holding in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta strikes down donor disclosure laws, expanding the impact of the infamous Citizens United decision by further allowing wealthy donors to influence politics in secret.
It’s no coincidence that the 6 conservative justices sided with the Arizona Republican Party and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a right-wing organization founded by the Koch brothers. And while these decisions may indeed “poke the bear” and reignite calls to amend the filibuster and expand the Court, the conservative bloc sees that as a long shot risk versus a sure bet to put Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy in the driver’s seat in 2022.
This is just one more reason to put teeth back in the Voting Rights Act and outlaw state-legislated voter suppression, sooner than later!
Nelson Checkoway is an award-winning copywriter and the principal of Rising Tide Direct, a fundraising agency for non-profit organizations.