Although there are reasons to be skeptical that Donald Trump will run for president in 2024, one thing could push him into it: Mounting legal troubles. With his potential crimes related to the insurrection becoming clearer, he is reportedly growing more serious about running, reasoning that as a candidate, he’ll be harder to prosecute. As it happens, this is unfolding even as the Supreme Court has announced plans to hear a case next term that could upend democracy. The court will likely validate in some form the “independent state legislature” theory, which could expand the power of state legislatures over elections in radically anti-democratic ways. That has generated much discussion of how the theory could enable hyperpartisan gerrymandering. But it could also enable more election subversion, which could dovetail with the looming Trump threat in combustible ways. Even if Trump doesn’t run, the tendencies he’s unleashed — Republicans are running for positions of control over election machinery while essentially vowing to treat future elections as subject to nullification — could be made more dangerous by the court’s ruling.
Editorial: The Courts Are the Only Thing Holding Back Total Election Subversion | Richard L. Hasen/The Atlantic
The United States has failed its first important test for democracy since the 2020 election season: Election denialism has taken hold among a significant segment of Republican voters, and election deniers are poised to win elections next week. They will go on to oversee or certify some elections in 2024. The question that matters now is whether the next line of defense for American democracy—our system of state and federal courts—is strong enough for the task ahead. Things were bad enough at the end of 2020 and into early 2021. Donald Trump’s relentless invocation of the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him through phantom fraud and technical irregularities led to frivolous lawsuits, protests and threats against election workers, and the violence of the January 6 insurrection. When Trump left the White House on January 20, courageous and focused Republican leadership could have quashed Trumpian antidemocratic forces, especially if Democratic leadership had had an earlier singular focus on preventing election subversion.