A constitutional challenge to Seattle's "democracy voucher" program, the only system of its kind for subsidizing political campaigns with taxpayer funds, has fallen on deaf ears at the Supreme Court.
Two property owners in the city maintained the unique system violates their First Amendment rights by compelling them, through their tax payments, to support candidates they oppose. The justices turned down their appeal Monday without comment.
It was a rare bit of good news for advocates of reducing the influence of big money on politics, who have been disappointed by almost every campaign finance decision by the high court in the past decade.
Rush is a professor of politics and law and the director of the center for international education at Washington and Lee University.
This spring, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Colorado Department of State v. Baca and then decide if members of the Electoral College are bound to abide by the laws of the states from which they hail.
In the case, Michael and Polly Baca as well as Robert Nemanich — electors from Colorado in 2016 — assert that this year's (and all future) electors have the right to vote for anyone, regardless of how the people of Colorado vote. The Supreme Court chose to hear the case because of a conflict between two lower courts. The Washington Supreme Court ruled a state could bind its Electoral College delegates. In Colorado, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this was not the case.
The Baca case is vexing for numerous reasons. Foremost, it highlights once again the arcane and undemocratic manner in which the United States elects its presidents. According to the Constitution, one needs a majority of the electoral college votes — not a majority of the popular vote — to win the election. For most of the country's history, the winner received a majority of both. But in 2000 and again in 2016, George W. Bush and Donald Trump did not win the popular vote.
Normally, the annual report from the nation's chief justice doesn't receive much attention. But John Roberts' relatively short missive released on New Year's Day has set off, if not a firestorm, then at least a conflagration of response. And it's all over the map.
Roberts, who last year devoted his report to the treatment of law clerks, focused this year on the role the court plays in promoting civic education. He argues that "we have come to take democracy for granted, and civic education has fallen by the wayside."
To which many liberal commentators have shouted: "Hypocrite!" Others see a no-so-subtle brushback pitch aimed at President Trump.
Michigan won't have to redraw its gerrymandered congressional and state district maps, as a federal court had required in an April ruling.
The Supreme Court on Monday overturned the ruling in a one-sentence order, which was expected in light of the justice's 5-4 decision in June that prohibited federal courts from hearing cases challenging legislative boundaries on the grounds they were drawn to favor one political party over another, a practice known as partisan gerrymandering.
In Michigan's case, the Republicans had drawn the districts to cement their hold on the state and congressional districts.