At a time like this, with dark clouds gathering almost everywhere I look, I am encouraged by some recent examples that America’s system of checks and balances is working.
Federal courts have just blocked attempts by three Republican state legislatures – North Carolina, Wisconsin and Kansas – to keep minorities and the poor from voting.
And earlier this month, a federal court struck down a Texas voting rights law considered one of the nation’s most restrictive ever.
But I am not celebrating yet.
These oppressive measures aren’t dead. Their fate will be determined by the United States Supreme Court. And with the vacancy on the court created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, the court’s ruling will depend on the results of November’s election.
With Scalia gone, the court is evenly divided between conservatives and liberals. And it will be up to the next President to appoint Scalia’s replacement.
The next President is also likely to make several more appointments as aging justices near retirement.
The continued effectiveness of America’s system of checks and balances depends on the character of the justices who get appointed.
The prospect of a scalawag like Donald Trump making those appointments fills me with dread.