The WØRD – “Supremes”

Keynote Speaker: Vice President Kamala Harris

From Chairperson Lavora Barnes

“Supremes”. No – not the legendary Motown trio. It’s the United States Supreme Court, and the importance of this year’s elections on the next 2 decades of the Court.

There likely will be two or more vacancies on the Court during the term of the next President. Right wing extremists and ethically challenged Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas are 74 and 75 years old; Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor are both 69.

The election of Trump, coupled with a Republican Senate, could result in a Court that has five or more Trump-appointed Justices. It would be a MAGA-dominated court for two or more decades.

Even if we re-elect Joe Biden, a Republican Senate could well stymie restoring balance to the Court. Mitch McConnell showed what raw power and a lack of conscience can do to the Court. McConnell’s outrageous partisanship stole two seats on the Court which should have gone to appointees of Presidents Obama and Biden. Instead McConnell used his slim majority in the Senate to gift Trump with 2 appointments: 59-year-old Brett Kavanagh and 54-year-old Amy Coney Barrett. Those two appointments cemented a radical right-wing-dominated activist court that resulted in overturning Roe, strengthening gerrymandering and shredding voting rights.

The next two decades of the U.S. Supreme Court are definitely on the ballot in November. We need to remember that every day, and redouble our efforts not only to reelect Joe Biden but make sure the next United States Senator from Michigan is a Democrat.

Voting rights advocates from across the nation regularly point to Michigan as a model for the nation. Voter approval of both the anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendment in 2018, and the two Voter Rights proposals in 2018 and 2022 make our state stand out. Ari Berman, national voting rights correspondent at Mother Jones, says Michigan’s reforms are – quote – “Restoring legitimacy to the democratic process.”

In 2017, 27-year-old political novice Katie Fahey assembled a nine-member team that was the core of what became Voters Not Politicians. Working with an all-volunteer volunteer army, VNP collected more than 450,000 petition signatures in just 100 days and then narrowly won a state Supreme Court challenge to put that amendment on the ballot. The proposal won 61 percent of the vote, taking the power of redistricting away from the Legislature by creating the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Our Walt Sorg, who was not affiliated with the Michigan Democratic Party back then, was one of the nine people on VNP’s original board of directors which led the entire effort. Walt recently talked with VNP’s legal counsel Jim Lancaster, the primary drafter of the words that are now a part of the Michigan Constitution, about how that grassroots campaign changed politics in Michigan. Walt recently talked with Lancaster about the proposal and how it has worked.

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