The Election that Could Decide the Election

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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69 Responses

  1. Chip Daniels
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    says:

    Add to this the efforts to replace standard Republicans with Big Lie supporters in almost every state where they have the power, and we are looking at a certainty that they will at least attempt to overthrow the 2024 election if it doesn’t go their way.

    If American democracy in fact dies in 2024, no one can say we weren’t warned or that we were powerless.Report

  2. Dark Matter
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    He seems a lot less serious than the typical serious candidate. One hopes the voters will notice.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Dark Matter
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      Considering that only one of the Trump backed House candidates in yesterday’s WV and NE primaries won, we can only hope they will.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Philip H
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        I take away a different story from Nebraska than most of the media are. Trump’s endorsed candidate for governor had nothing but that endorsement — a political newcomer, several women have accused him of groping them, the sitting governor and basically every business organization in the state all endorsed one of his opponents. Despite all of that, the Trump candidate still finished second in a 33.9/30.2/25.8 split among the top three candidates.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Michael Cain
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          As Chip keeps noting, there’s a sizable constituency for the Trumpian message in the US generally.Report

          • Dark Matter in reply to Philip H
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            says:

            Chip routinely lumps together anyone who votes for the GOP with the nastiest aspect of them. Team Blue gets a pass on that reasoning however.

            Both Red and Blue are large coalitions. Being a mono-voter on the subject of gun control or abortion doesn’t also make you against immigration, just like voting pro-choice doesn’t make you a socialist.

            I also think we’re over thinking Trump’s message. We like reason, he’s almost entirely emotion. After he got people to buy into his “I’m rich and famous and interesting, vote for me I’m superman” act, there were legacy costs to switching.Report

  3. Philip H
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    This is yet another race – at the state level – where the Democrats focus for two decades in the next White House occupant may well hurt them. If this guy gets the nod, what will Dems do to counter him in a meaningful way?Report

  4. Pinky
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    says:

    OK, I’m not trolling. I view the Alito leak and the protests outside SCOTUS members’ homes on par with January 6th. They’re attempts to undermine the Constitutional system of government. The protests are illegal; I’m not sure about the leak itself. Showing up at an official’s house is no different from erecting a gallows across from the Capitol. Opinions?Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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      says:

      Ok I’ll take the bait.
      Showing up at an abortion doctors house is illegal?Report

      • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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        says:

        I don’t think so, but if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. It’s not something I’d do, either way. Showing up at a judge’s house is illegal though.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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          says:

          Why?
          I mean, lets assume the protest is peaceful and has no threats of violence, but merely chants and placards.
          Lets assume it is at the home of a liberal justice like Sotomayor.

          Where’s the problem?Report

          • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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            says:

            Title 18 Section 1507

            Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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              I’m not sure which law this is, but I’m supportive of bans on “obstructing or impeding” but “influencing” is overly broad.

              Unless narrowly interpreted to be synonymous with “coercion” then it literally can make it illegal to walk by a judges house and say “I disagree with you!”Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I don’t know what to tell you or Mediaite, but the US Criminal Code is the US Criminal Code.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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                OK, lets issue arrest warrants for every single member of the Right To Life who, every January on the anniversary of Roe, with the intent of influencing the Supreme Court in the discharge of their duty, picketed and paraded near a building housing a court of the United States.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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                The space outside the Supreme Court building is exempt from this – I think by a Supreme Court ruling – but I’d have no problem if that exemption were dropped. I’ve attended the March for Life before, always with mixed feelings. I do think there’s a difference, however, between a symbolic act like protesting outside the Supreme Court Building and a personal act like protesting outside a home. Also just as a practical matter a justice is safer in a big building with guards.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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                I’m generally sympathetic to the idea of insulating judges from political pressure. Again, I’m imagining a bunch of Proud Boys outside Sotomayor’s house.

                But I notice a certain schizophrenia in how we talk.
                When the subject is the 2nd Amendment we hear lots of blood curdling language about the tree of liberty, “soapbox, ballot box, ammo box”, and how the whole point of the Amendment is to overthrow tyrants by, presumably, gunning down judges.

                We see a lot of Gadsden flags and quotations about how the government should fear its people.

                And I recall hearing an awful lot of talk in 2016 about how the norms and traditions in Washington were rotten and corrupt and needed to be shaken up. How the elites form an insular club, isolated and detached from the people they ostensibly serve.

                So it’s odd now to hear about how maybe the Washington elite should be insulated and detached after all.Report

              • Chris in reply to Chip Daniels
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                The idea of insulating judges from political pressure, particularly at the Supreme Court level, only makes sense if you think of the Supreme Court as an apolitical institution, which it very obviously is not (nor has it ever been).

                Also, in general, when 9 unelected people whose only real qualifications are law degrees and knowing the right political actors can decide things that can profoundly impact the lives of tens, even hundreds of millions of people, it seems to me we, the people affected, should be able to make it clear how we feel about their decisions. If they don’t like that, perhaps they should be in another line of work.

                Better still, let’s just abolish the institution. Then no one will have to worry about people showing up to their homes because of how they decide cases.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chris
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                We are in this situation because the Right to Life wants to get rid of Roe more than anyone wants to stop them.

                Whatever you change the rules to allow, the RtL is still going to want it more and be more willing to protest and play dirty than anyone else.

                When you change the rules you change them for everyone.

                The expectation should be that this change, i.e. allowing threats against judge’s families, would make the RtL stronger because they’ll go there all the time.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
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                They’ve already got a long list of murders, bombings and assaults so its not like they aren’t already cranked to 11.

                What a lot of people are missing is that the post-Roe world will be significantly more draconian than pre-Roe.

                Given the new surveillance/ security state and technology, plus the increasingly extreme positions taken by the anti abortionists, then couple that with the reliance on private vigilantism, and the old protections which women relied upon pre-Roe are gone.

                All of which means that instead of just the underclass feeling the iron fist, it will be the affluent as well.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                They’ve already got a long list of murders, bombings and assaults so its not like they aren’t already cranked to 11.

                There is a tiny element that commits crimes, and then we have about 20% of the population which doesn’t but really wants to outlaw abortion.

                If we make harassing judges legal and the new normal, your “11” will become “11000”.

                It’s is a serious mistake to think they’re already as bad as they can be so it doesn’t matter if we change the rules.

                The underlying problem is they want it more than you do. Changing the rules so your team can do bad things legally is just going to increase your disadvantage.Report

              • Chris in reply to Dark Matter
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                If you’ve ever passed a Planned Parenthood, or spoken to clinic worker, you know that the pro-forced pregnancy people are well beyond holding signs and chanting outside a judge’s house. I mean, we’re talking about a movement that at times condones murder, and has committed them.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chris
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                pro-forced pregnancy people are well beyond holding signs and chanting outside a judge’s house

                Yes. Whatever the rules are, they’re going to go to the bleeding edge of them and with a lot more manpower.

                So, you get to hold signs and chant outside a judge’s house ONCE every few years, they get to do it 24/7 until he retires.

                That lets them force out a pro-choice judge and sends a warning to all other pro-choice judges that this is what life is going to be like.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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                It’s unhealthy that you have to picture bad things happening to one of your own to muster up empathy. As for the Gadsden Flag crowd, you should take it up with them if any of them comment here.

                Ideally, the courts should be different from any of our other institutions. They should be non-political and insulated. Anything that politicizes the Court – the Garland snub, court packing schemes, leaks of first drafts, activist rulings – should be opposed.

                ETA – Chris posted before I did, and I think my whole comment here could be summed up by saying that Chris is completely wrong.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Pinky
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                says:

                You are dealing in what should be. Chris is dealing in what is, as is Chip.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Philip H
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                I’m also reflecting on the founders and how their vision of a republic didn’t seem to exclude any part of the government as being free of politics, or that politics itself as being particularly bad.

                They famously and viciously fought about politics and weren’t shy about using bare knuckle tactics when needed.

                As much as I like the idea of a nonpolitical branch, part of it reeks of the monarchy, where peasants are discouraged from criticizing the clergy or court. Where the peasants greet each new decree with a weary shrug of the shoulders.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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                It was more that the Founders never expected the Court to be allowed to become so political or powerful.Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I don’t think it’s that simple. The founders also held skepticism of what in their minds was too much democracy, hence the checks and balances and counter-majoritarian measures. The courts all need to be able to make unpopular decisions and I would say some of the judiciary’s finest moments have been when it has done just that.

                The problem we have is actors in the political branches making promises about what their appointees will and won’t do on particularly controversial questions of law. Chris is of course right that the phenomenon isn’t new. Whether we should embrace it or treat it as a regrettable but maybe to some degree inevitable situation we should aspire to avoid is a different question.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
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                says:

                All the more ironic then, that the opinion which sparked these protests held that a right only exists if it is well established and popular.

                How well established and popular is the idea that the justices homes are off limits?Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I think the irony is that if they stuck to their own doctrines it probably wouldn’t be happening.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                How well established and popular is the idea that the justices homes are off limits?

                From NBC: Most US voters don’t agree with doxing of Supreme Court justices, poll finds

                WASHINGTON (TND) — Three-fourths of likely general election voters think that doxing the Supreme Court justices who are in favor of potentially overturning Roe v. Wade, and calling for protests at their homes, is not acceptable, according to a new poll from the Trafalgar Group.

                Among Democrats, only about 21% of them think protesting at the private homes of the Supreme Court justices is an appropriate way to express grievances, the polls indicated.

                Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                There’s probably a reason why conservatives aren’t pursuing this argument.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                From what I understand, they are.

                And, in response, liberals are asking whether it’s really that popular or established to not do this sort of thing.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Please proceed, Governor.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Yeah, and I posted evidence that it’s not going over so well.

                I suppose you can take comfort in how principled you are.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                How well established and popular is the idea that the justices homes are off limits?

                You’re sure opening that door is a good idea? That it’s always going to be Team Blue harassing/threatening Red judges?

                Pro-life is more determined, has more fanatics, and overlaps with the pro-gun people.

                That combination suggests opening the door to harassing judges won’t simply be your side doing it to the judges you don’t like.

                Big picture, the processes we have are probably the ones we want to have. It’s unfortunate that the Pro-life side is accepted to the degree it is. However they’ve followed the rules and will get the chance to have their (really bad) ideas put in place.

                We’ll experiment with them. We’ll find out they’re not workable. We’ll end up with a political solution that looks a lot like Roe, but coming through the political process it will no longer being poison to the SC.

                And yeah, this is going to take a few decades and it’s going to be a real problem in some states. People will die from it.

                Democracy doesn’t always mean getting perfect, or even good outcomes.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Oooh! This is an opportunity to use the RICO!Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird
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                It is never an opportunity to use RICO.Report

          • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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            The moment you say “I know where you live, you’d better do the right thing or I will be very unhappy” you’re passed “no threats of violence”.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
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              says:

              Does this apply to all government officials at all levels of government?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                It probably should. “Protesting” at city hall and other publicly owned places is fine, there’s a lot of protection on that.

                Intruding on someone’s off-duty personal space seems intrinsically threatening. Calling it “a protest” doesn’t change that part of the message is “we know where you sleep”.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                There is an intrinsic bias to this though.

                I live in a dense urban area.
                If I were a judge, would it be forbidden to hold a protest march in downtown?

                And although I am sympathetic to the implied threats, I think that allowing the citizens to publicly shame and shun our elected servants makes freedom of protest a compelling issue.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                And the family of those elected officials?

                If we’re talking about the Mayor, he’s got an office and a city hall. You can protest there without threatening his family. If that’s not acceptable then threatening his family isn’t a side effect.

                If we’re talking about Judges, they’re supposed to be shielded from angry mobs and political pressure.Report

        • CJColucci in reply to Pinky
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          Says who? If it’s “illegal,” it’s because someone with say said so.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels
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        “Showing up at an abortion doctors house is illegal?”

        It’s exactly as illegal as walking down the street with a gun.Report

    • Kristin Devine in reply to Pinky
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      I agree with you. Sinister and just absolutely weird to see otherwise rational people who act like it’s NBD.Report

    • Dark Matter in reply to Pinky
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      Senate just amended a law, unanimously, to give protective services to Supreme Court family members if the agency thinks that’s needed.

      RE: Protests outside being on par with Jan 6th.
      It’s crossing lines that shouldn’t be crossed. It was non-violent and went to extremes to be non-violent so there’s that. Jan 6th crossed a lot more lines and is having multiple people spend time in jail.

      So I disagree on the specifics but agree on the spirit.

      RE: The Leak
      My understanding is it’s probably not illegal depending on who did it and how. It’s almost certainly career suicide and/or disbarment.Report

    • InMD in reply to Pinky
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      It isn’t a great norm but as long as it stays peaceful I don’t see how its apples to apples. 1/6 would not have been nearly as notable if all that happened was a protest outside the Capitol.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to InMD
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        Agree it has nothing to do with 1/6… but not sure I think it’s a good norm, even if peaceful… here are my thoughts:

        1. Assemble to protest Supreme Court decisions in general? Fine.
        2. Assemble to protest Legislation? Also Fine
        3. Assemble to ‘peaceably’ protest/influence individual Legislators? Still fine.
        4. Assemble to ‘peaceably’ protest/influence individual Judges? Not fine.

        Part of what our system looks to do is make Judges *not* directly petitionable … that’s a kind of blackmail/bribery/coercion that the system oughtn’t tolerate at an individual or collective level. If the Judiciary can be ‘bought’ via violence/coercion/threats *because* they are insulated from direct democratic influence then we’ve participated in the dismantling itself.

        We ‘lean’ on Politicians, we don’t lean on judges. This is something that should be denormalized, even if the de-normalizing results in greater ‘more vigorous’ (but still peaceable) protesting against individual Legislators.

        Regarding individual citizens, i don’t think we have a ‘right’ to Assemble/Petition/Protest – but those matters ought to be handled by local ordinances against harassment/unruly behavior, etc.Report

        • InMD in reply to Marchmaine
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          It’s definitely not the kind of thing you’d expect to see if everything was functioning the way it’s supposed to. But I also think it’s the natural conclusion of the path we’ve been following for some time with the court and with this issue. We could get into a long discussion about who started it (hell maybe the court started it in the 60s) but what’s important is that no one in the political branches has seen fit to end it. I don’t want to deprive the protesters of agency but I struggle to put the weight of the situation on them, again, assuming it all stays peaceful and orderly.Report

          • Marchmaine in reply to InMD
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            Well if it’s just John Cleese in a cowboy hat moving people along with a few strategic ‘what’s all this then’ arch words to the crowd level of frustration, then that’s how it should be handled. But moved along it should be.Report

  5. Kristin Devine
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    JMO, but the conspiracy theories about q-Anon seem more pervasive and at least as unbalanced than the actual q-Anon conspiracy theories did/do.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Kristin Devine
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      I don’t think I could vote for someone who believes Q-Anon stuff. I read the New Yorker article about Mastriano, though. Its thrust was Christian nationalism and it barely laid a glove on him. He’s patriotic, he’s religious, there are some organizations that are dangerous, lots of professors have studied those organizations and have quotes about them. That was about it.Report

  6. Saul Degraw
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    What are your views on Kathy Barnette? She seens to be a stalking horse candidate.

    Josh Shapiro has won state wide elections twice in Pennsylvania so he is not that wild as a candidate. The metrics point out that 2022 should be a great year for Republicans but it seems that they might Aiken themselves a lot. At least that is my hope.Report

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