The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

ro-choice protest in front of the Supreme Court.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

This week, Texas' draconian anti-abortion law went into effect, and the U.S. Supreme Court — in a 5-4 decision — let the law proceed. Far-right social conservatives in the Republican Party are delighted, as they are optimistic that the High Court will overturn Roe v. Wade. But one conservative who isn't celebrating is journalist/author David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. In an article published by The Atlantic this week, Frum warns fellow conservatives that their anti-abortion victories could lead to a major backlash against the Republican Party.

According to the 61-year-old Frum, the Texas law and the possible end of Roe v. Wade will bring about a seismic shift in the abortion debate in the United States.

"Pre-Texas," Frum argues, "opposition to abortion offered Republican politicians a lucrative, no-risk political option. They could use pro-life rhetoric to win support from socially conservative voters who disliked Republican economic policy, and pay little price for it with less socially conservative voters who counted on the courts to protect abortion rights for them."

Frum continues, "Pre-Texas, Republican politicians worried a lot about losing a primary to a more pro-life opponent, but little about a backlash if they won the primary by promising to criminalize millions of American women. That one-way option has just come to an end."

The Texas law outlaws abortion about six weeks into a woman's pregnancy. Because many women who become pregnant don't know that they're pregnant until after six weeks, the law effectively prohibits abortion in most cases — even if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. To make matters worse, the law allows private citizens to sue someone for $10,000 if they "aid and abet" an abortion. And abortion rights activists are warning that even an Uber driver who drives a pregnant woman to an abortion clinic could be sued for that amount.

Because of the Texas law and the Supreme Court's response to it, Frum predicts, abortion will be a major issue going into the 2022 midterms.

"Today, accountability has suddenly arrived," Frum warns fellow conservatives. "Texas Republicans have just elevated abortion rights to perhaps the state's supreme ballot issue in 2022. Perhaps they have calculated correctly. Perhaps a Texas voting majority really wants to see the reproductive lives of Texas women restrained by random passersby. If that's the case, that's an important political fact, and one that will reshape the politics of the country in 2024."

Frum adds, "But it's also possible that Texas Republicans have miscalculated. Instead of narrowly failing again and again, feeding the rage of their supporters against shadowy and far-away cultural enemies, abortion restricters have finally, actually, and radically got their way."

Countless critics of the GOP have argued that Republicans are pushing voter suppression bills because they know how unpopular their ideas are. But Frum speculates that even voter suppression laws may not be enough to prevent Americans from expressing their disdain for the Texas law at the polls.

"There's already compelling evidence that Texas Republicans understand how detested their new abortion law will soon be — not only in New York City and Los Angeles, but also in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and Fort Worth," Frum writes. "They took the precaution of preceding the nation's most restrictive abortion law with one of the nation's most suppressive voting laws…. But the Texas voting law only impedes voting; it does not prevent it."

According to Frum, "Republicans do best when the electorate is satisfied and quiet" but "face disaster when the electorate is mobilized and angry" — and the Texas law may result in a lot of angry, mobilized voters.

"Texas Republicans have just bet their political future in a rapidly diversifying and urbanizing state on a gambit: cultural reaction plus voter suppression," Frum stresses. "The eyes of Texas will be upon them indeed. The eyes of the nation will be upon them too."

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

Targeting Battleground States

Keep reading... Show less

Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

Keep reading... Show less
x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}