The fight over combating disinformation, one of the main scourges of a functioning democracy, has gone to an unprecedented place in the past 24 hours.
President Trump is now threatening to impose new federal regulation on social media companies, or even force them to shut down. That was his extraordinary vow of retaliation on Wednesday to Twitter's path-breaking decision the day before to call out falsehoods in a pair of presidential tweets.
Compounding the importance of the moment for the cause of good government — which is supposed to rely on unfettered political speech, an independent media and truth-bound public officials all acting in harmony — is the topic at the center of the dispute: Wholly unsubstantiated claims from a president of the United States that the American electoral system is being corrupted.
Joe Biden has created a new senior campaign position to focus on protecting the right to vote in an election remade by the coronavirus.
Rachana Desai Martin, a senior Democratic party official, will be the national director for voter protection and senior counsel on the legal team, the presumptive nominee's campaign announced Tuesday.
It appears to be the first job of its kind in a modern-day major-party presidential campaign, but the circumstances are also nearly without precedent — the first national election in a century during a nationwide public health emergency. Martin will focus on ballot accessibility for all voters and combating the disenfranchisement of people of color.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to delay Georgia's primary and make other changes to the election rules because of the coronavirus. But what's much more potentially significant is Judge Timothy Batten's reason: The issues raised in the case are political and there is no place for the judiciary to decide them.
Batten's ruling, issued earlier in the month but reaffirmed more forcefully on Tuesday, says the suit raises "nonjusticiable political questions." It is the same, unusual conclusion the Supreme Court reached a year ago in its landmark ruling that federal courts have no place refereeing the limits of partisanship in drawing legislative maps
But it is a wholly different approach than the one taken in a slew of lawsuits filed since the pandemic began, arguing that judges must relax voting regulations that unconstitutionally or illegally imperil the health of voters and poll workers.
Kentucky is the latest state to face a lawsuit asking for election law easement in the face of the coronavirus.
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union are among those who sued Wednesday, but with a bit of a twist: They are out to reverse one of the very few state laws enacted since the pandemic began that makes it more difficult to vote this year.
Still, the new suit is similar to dozens of others filed this year that seek to make battleground or red-leaning states relax their election regulations and expand voting by mail.
Three of the four quarters of Democracy Madness have wrapped up. Now, it's time to crown the champion of the "Best of the Rest" division and move into the Final Four of our reader-driven tournament to come up with the fan favorite proposal for fixing the broken democracy.
The top seeds in this part of the bracket — always using paper ballots in elections (No. 1) and using federal funding to power elections (No. 2) — will square off today and Thursday in the final round of this "regional" competition. Both proposals have breezed past their opponents thus far, though the second seed has had higher win margins during its run.
Can federal election funding upset paper ballots? Or will the lead seed bring home the victory?
"Moving state primaries later in the year may insulate congressional incumbents of both parties from challengers," writes Robert Boatright of Clark University.
Wednesday's Word of the Week
Hard money: Contributions from individuals and political action committees that adhere to the limits and disclosure requirements of federal campaign finance law.