There are two sacred places in the United States of America where an individual directly interacts with our democracy: the voting booth and the jury box.
For years now, the far-right wing of the Republican Party has attacked the American jury system, framing the issue in terms of so-called “tort reform”. At first blush, it seemed the financial benefit alone motivated those efforts to undercut the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution. Simply, if you make it harder for individuals to sue corporations for the harms they caused, then corporations can keep putting citizens in danger without any financial consequences.
However, after 2000 – when the Supreme Court of the United States stole the Presidential election for George W. Bush – it became clear that the Republican attack on the jury system was part of a broader attack on the judiciary. In the last decade, prominent Republicans have called for the removal – and occasionally, for the arrest – of “activist” judges who upheld Constitutional guarantees of equality that were not conducive to the fiscal or social platform of the Republican Party.
This year, the far-right wing of the Republican Party is not satisfied with using fear-based distortions to win elections and remove judges they don’t like from the bench.
Republicans are making concerted effort to deny United States citizens their fundamental right to vote. In Pennsylvania, in Florida, and across the U.S., Republicans are systematically creating barriers to the ballot box in the form of voter identification laws. Tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans – predominately the youngest and most elderly voters, and minority voters – could lose their right to vote this fall.
The polling booth and the jury box should be hallowed ground for all Americans. We should be doing everything possible to encourage voter participation at every level, in every jurisdiction, in every election.
The Democratic National Platform opposes laws that place unnecessary restrictions on those who try to exercise their freedom and right to vote. Sadly, it appears that hundreds of thousands of Americans may lose their right to vote this year because of the Republican Party’s covert and ongoing attack on one of the fundamental building blocks of our democracy – the judicial system.