The Republican Party’s relentless ploys to pull the Supreme Court as far right as possible have been paying off for a while now, from partisan gerrymandering to attacking public sector unions. And in one of its first acts for its new session, the Court may have just ensured that Republicans hold the Senate in the midterms.
On Tuesday, the Court declined to hear a challenge to North Dakota’s voter I.D. laws by a vote of 6-2 (with Brett Kavanaugh not participating), upholding a lower court decision that will likely prevent thousands of Native Americans from voting in November. North Dakota has a large population of Native Americans and Senator Heidi Heitkamp is considered the most vulnerable Democratic senator up for reelection this year. Per Mother Jones:
North Dakota’s 2017 voter law ID was challenged by Native residents who alleged that the law disproportionately blocked Native Americans from voting. In April, a federal district court judge blocked large portions of the law as discriminatory against Native voters. “The State has acknowledged that Native American communities often lack residential street addresses,” Judge Daniel Hovland wrote. “Nevertheless, under current State law an individual who does not have a ‘current residential street address’ will never be qualified to vote.” According to the website of the Native American Rights Fund, which represents the plaintiffs, many native residents lack residential street addresses because “the U.S. postal service does not provide residential delivery in these rural Indian communities.” As a result, tribal IDs use P.O. boxes, which are not sufficient under North Dakota’s new law—a specification that seems designed to disenfranchise native voters. Hovland’s ruling was in place during the primaries this spring.
By now we know this is the deliberate design of voter I.D. laws. Under the guise of election security and fighting nonexistent voter fraud, Republicans across the country have crafted legislation that prevents people from voting if they aren’t likely to vote Republican. That’s how Republicans can hold broadly unpopular positions or support very generally abhorrent people like Brett Kavanaugh without worrying about being held accountable.
Which is of course the one of the biggest boons Republicans get from fighting so relentlessly for Supreme Court seats: it ensures they maintain control of the government despite representing a minority of the country. The more people vote, the more trouble they’re in.