How Manchin and Sinema completed a conservative vision

By | January 17, 2022

Ronald Brownstein writes:

The decision by Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin to block their fellow Democrats from passing new federal voting-rights legislation clears the path for years of tightening ballot restrictions in Republican-controlled states. It also marks a resounding triumph for Chief Justice John Roberts in his four-decade quest to roll back the federal government’s role in protecting voter rights.

Roberts as much as anyone set in motion the events that have led to this week’s climactic Senate confrontation over voting legislation. In a series of rulings over the past 15 years, the Supreme Court, often in decisions written by Roberts himself, has consistently weakened federal oversight of voter protections and struck down federal regulations meant to reduce the influence of money in politics. Almost all of those decisions have unfolded on a strict party-line basis, with the Republican-appointed justices outvoting those appointed by Democrats.

Those decisions have had an enormous practical impact on the rules for American elections. But many voting-rights advocates say that the rulings have been equally important in sending a signal to Republican-controlled states that the Supreme Court majority is unlikely to stand in their way if they impose new restrictions on voting or extreme partisan gerrymanders in congressional and state legislative districts.

Democrats are still pressing the two senators to reconsider their decision before this week’s votes. Barring an unlikely last-minute reversal of their position, Manchin and Sinema have effectively blocked federal voting-rights legislation by insisting that it remain subject to a filibuster that provides Senate Republicans a veto. And that could trigger a renewed red-state offensive. [Continue reading…]

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