Are Election Lawsuits Good For Democracy?

Intelligence Briefing Intelligence Squared

Do we want our elections resolved by the courts? It hasn’t happened since the days of hanging chads, puzzled reporters, and confused Floridians. Only this time, the U.S. presidential election doesn’t hinge on a single state. That, however, hasn’t stopped a multi-state lawsuit blitz from going forward on President Trump’s behalf, setting up what could be protracted litigation as inauguration day nears. Cracks in the bedrock are showing.

Well, maybe.

Some argue that this is just what the system was set up for. Send it to the courts. Better to hash it out there than on the streets.

But others say these lawsuits are just one avenue of the president’s “flood-the-zone” strategy, designed to peddle misinformation and undermine an electorate that – though close – appears to have picked his rival, Joe Biden, as America’s next Commander-in-Chief.

In this especially timely debate, Open to Debate host and moderator John Donvan engages with two competing legal minds — one of a former prosecutor and law professor, the other of a former White House attorney — to answer an essential question in the nation’s unfolding history: “Are Elections Lawsuits Good For Democracy?

As always, let us know what you think.

David Ariosto

Head of Editorial, Open to Debate

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POINT / COUNTERPOINT Two perspectives on one of the nation’s biggest debates this week. Are Lawsuits an important tool of transparency? Or do they undermine the public’s trust in the electoral process



Trump’s lawsuits are good for American democracy

“Of course, it remains to be seen whether President Trump and his supporters will respect the results. We should pause nonetheless to note that it’s a good sign that they chose to use this all-American method of contesting the election rather than another, less democratic way.” – The Hill



The Republican Party Is Attacking Democracy

“Its weapons are baseless insinuation and evidence-free charges, deployed solely to sow chaos and undermine the results of a free and fair election — one that produced a clear winner and an even clearer loser.” – The New York Times


INTELLIGRAPHIC President Trump and his legal team have unleashed a flurry of election lawsuits across the country. Here’s a snapshot.



DOUBLE DIGITSWhen one number tells two stories.

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“This isn’t smallpox and doesn’t require draconian measures that infringe on basic civil liberties.” – The Wall Street Journal


POINTS OF VIEWTop insights and news from the intellectual leaders who have battled it out on the Open to Debate stage.


– President Trump’s refusal to accept the outcome of the election will not only hurt his image, but undermine the public’s faith in U.S. institutions, argues Lee Drutman. [Read more via NBC News, Lee’s debate on the two-party system.]

– Meanwhile, Rich Lowry writes that President Trump’s potential loss is nothing compared to the GOP defeat of 2008, and his legacy is firmly imprinted on the Republican party. [Read more via Politico, Rich’s debate on President Trump.] – Regardless of the outcome of the 2020 election, the U.S. is on a route toward ungovernable, unstable majorities, writes Nick Gillespie. [Read more via Reason, Nick’s debate on Medicare for All.] – Bjørn Lomborg argues that the European Union should lead the charge in combatting climate change, but not with the policies that are in place. [Read more via Euractiv, Bjørn’s debate on carbon emissions.] – Is it time for a national popular vote? Katrina vanden Heuvel makes the case. [Read more via Washington Post, Katrina’s debate on mainstream media.] We hope you will join us and continue to uphold the standard of public discourse. If you believe in informed, substantive and civil debate, please consider sharing our newsletter with a friend, follow us on Twitter or Instagram, and consider donating – whatever you can – to help keep this work going.

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