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Fake news comes to the Supreme Court

Dana Milbank on

"What's really behind all of this," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said during arguments, is "the precious right to vote. If you can stack a legislature in this way, what incentive is there for a voter to exercise his vote?"

Smith predicted that if the court fails to intervene in Wisconsin, "you're going to have a festival of copycat gerrymandering the likes of which this country has never seen. ... The country is going to lose faith in democracy."

Three members of the court's conservative bloc -- Alito, Neil Gorsuch and John Roberts Jr., the chief justice -- were searching for reasons not to intervene. (A fourth, the silent Clarence Thomas, previously voted against court involvement.) That likely leaves the decision to Anthony M. Kennedy, who is more prone to bouts of fairness than his conservative colleagues.

In an unusual soliloquy, the chief justice argued that the court shouldn't get involved in the Wisconsin case because then it would have to intervene in others. "It's going to be a problem here across the board," he lamented.

The poor dears. Maybe, given that democracy is at stake, they could shorten their summer holiday, which just ended Monday?

Roberts continued: "The intelligent man on the street" will deduce that, if the Supreme Court rules with Democrats in a gerrymandering case, "it must be because the Supreme Court preferred the Democrats over the Republicans. ... And that is going to cause very serious harm to the status and integrity of the decisions of this court in the eyes of the country."

Now he's worried about the public standing of the court? After Bush v. Gore, campaign finance rulings that give the wealthy dominance over elections, and the brazen politics of the Merrick Garland fiasco?

In the gerrymandering case, the justices have a chance to restore "integrity" by defending the principle of one person, one vote. Alternatively, the five Republican appointees can defend their patrons by allowing this perversion of democracy to continue.

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Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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