Texas lawsuit to overturn election is a cynical and racist play for power

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We suspect many of you, like us, are gobsmacked by Texas asking the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the election results of the 2020 presidential election in four other states. 

Joining in the madness by Ken Paxton, the Republican attorney general of New Mexico’s giant neighbor to the east, are 17 other Republican attorney generals and more than 40% of the Republican congressional delegation.

Paxton is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the results in Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan — battleground states that helped hand the presidency to former Democratic vice president Joe Biden — by calling into question those states’ administration of the election.

Never mind that other states that President Trump won, such as Montana, aren’t targets of Paxton’s lawsuit even though they enacted similar procedures for the 2020 election. 

Never mind that some of the state elections targeted by Paxton are administered by Republicans.

Make no mistake: this challenge is a cynical and racist play for power.

Paxton, who is white, as well as 17 Republican Attorney General colleagues and 106 U.S. House members, who support Paxton’s lawsuit and are overwhelmingly white too, are urging the Supreme Court to decide who wins the presidency by throwing out millions of votes in cities  like Atlanta, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Detroit and their first-ring suburbs — most of which were cast by Black and brown people. In effect, the message Paxton and all those attorney generals and U.S. House members supportive of his suit are sending is, Black and brown people can’t be trusted to vote.

Now, if you know your American history, disenfranchsing non-white people is as American as apple pie. We grew up in Georgia and Texas and know the long hard slog the civil rights movement endured while taking on the systems and institutions set up in the Jim Crow South. Since living in New Mexico we’ve also learned about its own sordid history around Indigenous voters who weren’t allowed to vote until the mid 20th century.

Like we said, voter disenfranchisement of racial minorities is as American as apple pie. 

It’s no surprise, then, that attorney generals from five states of the former Confederacy — Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi — have signed on to an amicus brief filed by Missouri’s attorney general in support of Texas’ lawsuit. (Georgia did not sign on, and says Texas’ allegations are “false and irresponsible.”)

What is surprising, however, is the blatantness with which this attempt to disenfranchise non-white voters is playing out in front of the nation. 

Let’s also be clear that this is a concerted effort to undermine our democracy completely by sowing distrust in the electoral system. 

These plaintiffs are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take away our collective right to elect the President. Should they prevail, voters who cast their ballots for Biden across the country will be sent a clear message that the judiciary is politicized and that elections don’t matter.

After decades of hearing about states’ rights and the sacredness of the U.S. Constitution from Republicans, we find in this lawsuit a complete repudiation of those principles.  The hypocrisy is astounding. 

New Mexico’s own Republican party is joining in that undemocratic choir, led by Steve Pearce. 

As it turns out, our “republican” norms in which each state is constitutionally empowered to decide which presidential candidate it will select are simply inconvenient challenges to overcome for these folks when the goal is maintaining power in the White House.

(As of this morning, Biden’s margin of victory in the national popular vote stood at more than 7 million, according to the Cook Political Report’s 2020 National Popular Vote Tracker. And his Electoral College margin is 306 to 232).

It’s clear who won the presidential election. It was clear after numerous recounts in Georgia and as battleground states one after another certified their votes. It was clear when U.S. Attorney General William Barr, a strong defender of the president, said there was no evidence of election fraud on a scale that would overturn the election outcome.  It was clear when lower courts across the country dismissed — in some cases with great derision — court challenges by Trump’s team.

The clarity produced by all the recounts and thrown-out court challenges does not change what the majority of us have known since shortly after election day — and that is who won the presidential election. 

This originally appeared in the New Mexico In Depth weekly newsletter, which you can receive in your mailbox.

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