Public servants, such as Georgia’s Secretary of State, Raffensperger, have no business claiming a win in a challenge by citizens to their performance. That the challenge had to be beought is already evidence of unsatisfactory performance. That a judge “bought” the bureaucracy’s rationale for non-compliance is evidence of nothing.
However, Raffensperger’s “take” is worth dissecting.
(ATLANTA)-With a dismissal ordered on the evening of May 14, Federal Judge Timothy Batten brought a swift end to a lawsuit brought by activists who have repeatedly sued the State of Georgia. In the decision, Judge Batten stated, “Ultimately, ordering Defendants to adopt Plaintiffs’ laundry list of so-called ‘Pandemic Voting Safety Measures’ would require the Court to micromanage the State’s election process. The relief Plaintiffs seek bears little resemblance to the type of relief plaintiffs typically seek in election cases aimed to redress state wrongs.”
That the judicial branch is designed to act as a check on the executive and legislative branches does not seem to register with individuals who are convinced that elected and appointed agents are superior to the citizens, who govern. That Judge Batten misunderstands the direction of his authority and that a novel viral pandemic calls for novel responses is, therefor, not surprising.
The activist plaintiffs, the Coalition for Good Governance, Rhonda Martin, Jeanne Dufort, Aileen Nakamura, B. Joy Wasson, and Elizabeth Throop, were seeking to interfere in the upcoming General Primary, move election dates, and change how Georgians vote. Worst of all they were seeking to disenfranchise overseas military voters.
The suggestion that active citizen participarion in governing is somehow wrong or deplorable is novel, but not surprising. The public needs to be put in its place, rendered compliant. Conservatives are firmly convinced of that.
Fact is that absentee ballots have traditionally only been tabulated and counted when their number is in excess of the difference beteen the original tallies for particular candidates. If that were not the case, if ballots arriving by mail were tallied as a matter of course, it would not be possible to “call” elections on election day. If not counting ballots is considered disenfranchisement, then that is part of the routine. As it was when 10% of all paper ballots were discarded because of some “mistake” or failure to follow directions (like checking an oval instead of filling it in).
“I am pleased that Judge Batten recognized these claims for what they are…policy preferences and political gamesmanship attempting to masquerade as constitutional claims,” said Secretary Raffensperger. “The dismissal of this lawsuit allows election officials in Georgia to concentrate on what matters most, which is ensuring that every Georgian can safely exercise their right to vote during these unprecedented times. I hope that the other groups who have asserted these same claims in other lawsuits will see the error of their ways, stop wasting taxpayer dollars, and drop their lawsuits.”
No doubt Brad is pleased. God forbid he and his subordinates should have more work. They couldn’t even get the right size paper for the ballots and count on voters to perform a “trim.” That said, citizens voting is not actually a right. It is one of the duties of citizenship which, however, we have a right to ignore. Why? ‘Cause it’s a free country and free-loading is OK.
Judge Batten also made clear in his order that courts should not be involved in these questions. Stated in his order, “This is why courts should not second-guess coordinate branches of government on matters explicitly committed to them.”
THE JUDGE IS WRONG. But it is telling that he knows what the issue is. Just because the judiciary does not have the means to enforce compliance by the executive, the matter should not be dismissed. Doing so undermines the authority of the judiciary itself and invites corrective legislative action. So there is that.
Judge Batten’s order follows other recent court orders denying activist plaintiffs attempts to interfere with the June 9, 2020 primary, including lawsuits from the ACLU and the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights.