Authoritarian Drift and the Supreme Court: We Avoid the Worst

Authoritarian Drift and the Supreme Court: We Avoid the Worst

In an interview a few days ago, the Secretary of State, Melanie Jolie, said that we must prepare for the possibility of a Trump presidency again.

She was absolutely right in stating that.

authoritarian drift

When the Secretary indicated that Canada should be prepared for different scenarios, she was just doing her job, but these remarks were in line with my concerns and the concerns of many other observers and analysts.

Since the victory of Donald Trump in 2016, the United States has become more turbulent, both domestically and internationally.

That so many American voters pay so little attention to authoritarian skew, the rise of the alt-right, and many Republicans’ disdain for the simplest rules of a healthy democratic life are all causes for a cold sweat.

When you think about it seriously, the January 6, 2021 assault and the multiple maneuvers by Trump and his supporters to nullify the results of the 2020 election could have resulted in even greater chaos, were it not for the Constitution, and state separation. Powers and resistance of a few elected officials in pivotal states.

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a theory, of so-called “independent state legislators,” that would have allowed states to set their own election rules, while allowing them to escape legal challenges.

US states already have an unusual leeway in federal elections. Since the birth of the United States, there has been a desire to decentralize power and entrust large parts of it to the United States.

While states have the right to administer federal election procedures, taking them out of judicial control has never been seriously considered.

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For such an option to gain enough support to be brought to the Supreme Court is itself a symptom of drift.

Fringe theory, but real risks

I was looking forward to yesterday’s verdict. I wondered if the more conservative majority of the highest court, made up of “original” jurists (adherent to the Constitution as it was drafted in 1787), would find arguments at odds with the founding text.

And just as important to me, the victory of the Independent State Legislators theory would have meant that Trump supporters in some states would be able to make up in 2024 what they missed in 2020, by overturning a legitimate election.

Removing state legislatures from the control of the judiciary means opening the door to all manipulations by certain states to reduce or prevent broader electoral participation, while reserving for them the exclusive right to validate the results.

I invite you to remain vigilant, as this failed attempt is just one of the avenues of right-wing extremists. The verdict avoids the worst, but there will be other episodes.

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About the Author: Hermínio Guimarães

"Introvertido premiado. Viciado em mídia social sutilmente charmoso. Praticante de zumbis. Aficionado por música irritantemente humilde."

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