The Roberts Court's Assault on Democracy

35 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2020

See all articles by Lynn Adelman

Lynn Adelman

U.S. District Court - Eastern District of WI

Date Written: February 18, 2020


This article argues that economic and political developments in the last fifty years have in many respects undermined America’s democratic institutions and that, instead of working to strengthen democracy, the Supreme Court over which Chief Justice Roberts presides, is substantially contributing to its erosion. The Court has done this in two ways, first by carrying on a sustained assault on the right of poor people and minorities to vote. The Court has virtually eviscerated the landmark Voting Rights Act, it has upheld strict voter identification laws that serve no purpose other than to make voting more difficult, and it has authorized states to purge thousands of people from the voting rolls. In addition, the Court has abdicated its responsibility to end the anti-democratic process of partisan gerrymandering. The second way in which the Court is weakening democracy is by reinforcing the enormous imbalance in wealth and political power that has developed in recent decades and that has contributed to undermining democracy. The Court has done this by consistently strengthening the economic and political power of corporations and wealthy individuals, as, for example, through its campaign finance decisions, and by reducing that of ordinary Americans as, for example, through its decisions involving labor unions, forced arbitration and the expansion of Medicaid.

Suggested Citation

Adelman, Lynn, The Roberts Court's Assault on Democracy (February 18, 2020). Harvard Law & Policy Review, Forthcoming , Available at SSRN:

Lynn Adelman (Contact Author)

U.S. District Court - Eastern District of WI ( email )

United States Courthouse
517 E. Wisconsin Avenue Room 364
Milwaukee, WI 53202
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics