A question raised by today’s decision out of Pennsylvania. The decision largely rests on the judge’s contention that Pennsylvania’s election law fails to ban all sorts of abuses, including excluding poll watchers and illegal ballots, and federal courts have nothing to say about this. Now, obviously, the decision would look very differently if the shoe were on the other foot, in no small part because the Democrats can always claim disproportionate impact on minority voters. Some of the cases this time around by Republicans have emphasized minority plaintiffs, but realistically speaking this particular gambit is copyrighted by the plantation party.
Obviously this was a step in larger strategy, but the problem is very real. Consider Bush v. Gore. Having to invoke equal protection in federal court cases involving federal elections is absurd. It’s also a very weak reed for protecting the integrity of a political system from abuses both blatant and subtle.
The Pennsylvania argument is that the state can perpetrate its choice of abuses that federal courts shouldn’t be able to remedy (and this is while the Democrats insist on the need to continue monitoring the voting setups of southern states), the complainants have to prove standing, damages, and a remedy that is equivalent to the damages. In other words, you can’t challenge the actual election unless you have enough plaintiffs to change the results. That’s not something that a campaign can realistically come up with a few weeks after the election when the difference is high enough.
If states illegally making up election law on the fly is treated as a state issue, and it can’t move forward within the state because, as in Pennsylvania, its judiciary is hopelessly partisan and corrupt, and federal judges refuse to touch it because it’s a state issue, then our political system is little better than a banana republic.
This is essentially an argument that Tammany Hall can steal ballots in plain view, and that Tammany Hall’s own local courts can laugh, and that federal courts can’t touch the problem. That might be a credible argument coming from the Democrats of the Tammany Hall era who were proponents of local governance, but the Democrats want everything controlled by the federal government, except on those occasions when it’s inconvenient for them, such as illegal migration.
This is obviously an unsustainable situation that allows local corruption to steal national elections. It’s not the first this has happened. But this time everyone is watching.