Does the Supreme Court Have It In for the Democratic Party?

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As long as we’re obsessing about the Supreme Court this morning, I might as well make another point that’s been on my mind lately: If the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare, it would be their third major anti-Democratic decision in the past dozen years. That’s capital-D Democratic. As in the political party.

When it comes to judicial activism, conservatives claim that we liberals have nothing to complain about. The Warren Court was famously activist in a liberal direction, after all, and we lefties thought that was just fine. But there’s a real difference here. The famous Warren Court decisions — ending school segregation, expanding the right to counsel, enforcing one-man-one vote, banning organized school prayer — were obviously decisions that conservatives didn’t like. But there was nothing in them that was especially damaging to the interests of the Republican Party.

But things are different this time around. In 2000, Bush v. Gore sent the Democratic Party’s candidate for president packing and installed George W. Bush in the Oval Office. In 2010, Citizens United opened the floodgates of corporate campaign money, a ruling that very plainly disfavored the Democratic Party on a purely operational basis. And if Obamacare is overturned, it will be a decision that kills off the Democratic Party’s biggest legislative achievement in decades.

The current Supreme Court is obviously more conservative than we liberals would like, but that’s what happens when the other guys win elections. To some extent, them’s the breaks. But to hand down decision after decision that very plainly opposes the agenda of one party over another is quite another. If there’s an argument to be made that the court is endangering its legitimacy, this is it. It’s not just that overturning Obamacare would be a prodigious repudiation of major legislation based on a very small and questionable point of constitutional law, it’s that it would hammer home the point that this court just doesn’t like the Democratic Party much. That’s not something that either Democrats or Republicans really ought to be comfortable with.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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