Some Nice Bipartisan Moments

Maybe everything just isn’t going to hell after all.

This week held some good news. For one thing, Donald Trump got taken down yet a couple more notches. His hand-picked candidate, Herschel Walker, lost by 100,000 votes. And his company got nailed for tax fraud. Republican leaders have wanted this guy gone for a long time. Now there’s at least some indication that he might really be fading away. Too early to say for sure. We’ll see.

Legislation requiring states to recognize same-sex marriages in other states passed on a bi-partisan basis in both houses of Congress. Credit our own Sen. Tammy Baldwin for being a leader on that, but also toss some credit to Wisconsin House Republicans Bryan Steil and Mike Gallagher, who both voted for the bill.

Mike Gallagher from conservative Northeast Wisconsin voted with Tammy Baldwin.

This was all made necessary because of some scary comments made by Justice Clarence Thomas in a concurring opinion in the case which overturned Roe v. Wade. So, this legislation isn’t just significant for what it actually does, but also for the message it sends to the Court. Gay marriage (and interracial marriage as well) are settled issues in America. You really want to rock that boat given the hits the Court’s credibility has taken by getting out of synch with the majority when it overturned Roe?

Then there’s the also scary Moore v. Harper case, which was argued before the Court this week. It’s scary because it tried to advance a once obscure doctrine called “independent state legislatures.” The idea is that the Constitution grants authority to legislatures — and only legislatures — to draw Congressional district lines and make other rules regarding federal elections. At its most extreme, the argument could be taken to mean that legislatures could even assign electoral votes anyway they wanted, even independent of popular votes in their states.

But after Thursday’s arguments in Court, it seems far less likely that the Supremes will go that far. Conservative Justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett all sounded skeptical of the plaintiff’s arguments. It’s always hard to predict, but it sounds like the decision, when it comes out later this year, could be muddled and inconclusive. That would be the best possible outcome.

However, it should be noted that the Court could still very well rule in a way that gives Wisconsin Republicans in the legislature another shot at redrawing Congressional districts. It’s not widely known that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers actually won that fight and the result was a newly competitive First District — the one that Steil represents.

Right now Wisconsin has four solid Republican districts, two solid Democratic districts and two that lean Republican, but could be winnable by the right kind of Democrat in a good year. The Court could end up making it possible for Republicans to redraw the First CD in a way that solidifies Steil’s hold on it, though the also competitive Third CD would be harder to redraw.

In any event, Roberts, Kavanaugh and Barrett have shown some surprising and refreshing independence. None of them have sided with Trump in his attempts at overturning the election or trying to get out of turning over his tax returns.

It wasn’t even six weeks ago that I was worried about the very survival of American democracy. I don’t think I was over-worrying and I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet. But things seem a lot sunnier today than they did back then.

Have a nice weekend.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

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