“Courts cannot hold private citizens’ decisions to stay home for their own safety against the State.”

The quote above (reported HERE) was a cornerstone of the Republican argument in the U.S. Supreme Court, defending enforcement of a South Carolina law that requires a legally prescribed witness statement to be included with every mail in ballot — in order for the vote to be valid. South Carolina enacted this law because of the claimed danger of runaway voter fraud, incidence of which has been documented (by well-paid voting fraud conspiracists like Hans von Spakovsky) at less than ten thousandths of one percent: 0.00004%

It begs the obvious question in a democracy: how is the State different than the will of the voters who elect their representatives? How is the safety of citizens different than the safety of the State?

Here is how CNN reported on the Republican effort to limit mail-in ballots in a state where Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is running neck and neck with his Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison.

Republicans argued to the Supreme Court that more than 150,000 absentee ballots “have been mailed out already, and each passing day increases the risk that ballots will be returned, that, in mistaken reliance on the district court’s injunction, do not comply with the witness requirement.”

They said, “Although COVID-19 might make in-person voting less desirable, courts cannot hold private citizens’ decisions to stay home for their own safety against the State.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh¬†explained why he had voted in favor of the Republicans. He said a state legislature’s decision either to “keep or to make changes to election rules to address COVID-19 ordinarily should not be subject to second-guessing by an unelected federal judiciary” and that the court has repeatedly emphasized that federal courts should not alter state election rules too close to an election.

source

“Although COVID-19 might make in-person voting less desirable,”

Presumably the possibility of catching a serious and sometimes deadly disease is less desirable than staying out of an infectious indoor space where you are likeliest to be exposed to this dangerous pathogen. This phrasing is an example of why lawyers are so hated.

courts cannot hold private citizens’ decisions to stay home for their own safety”

Courts can’t elevate the selfish desire of private citizens to protect themselves against the inconvenience of some flu-like disease above the right of the…

“against the State.”

As for Justice Boof Kavanaugh’s explanation: it makes perfect sense — in a nation with no history of persistent and widespread voter suppression and intimidation — or in a nation that was not forced to make a number of laws to stop these anti-democratic practices and to enforce those laws in the courts (until the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013)or in any nation in the middle of a deadly pandemic that rages most uncontrollably in indoor, crowded spaces, like polling places, particularly the few open in “underserved” areas.

But — come on, now. Crimes against the State, y’all.

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