Arizona’s law put limits on who was allowed to turn in early ballots on behalf of others, and said that ballots that were cast in the wrong precinct do not need to be counted.
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the laws put in place by the state of Arizona. In a vote of 6-3, the Court reversed a ruling from a lower court that said Arizona’s laws could not stand.
Arizona’s law put limits on who was allowed to turn in early ballots on behalf of others, which is what’s known as ballot harvesting, and said that ballots that were cast in the wrong precinct do not need to be counted. The Supreme Court said these provisions were not racially discriminatory, according to the AP.
It was the appeals court in San Francisco that had said that the laws were discriminatory, saying that minority voters were disproportionately affected by the laws.
The majority opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito, who said that the “Court declines in these cases to announce a test to govern all VRA [Section 2] challenges to rules that specify the time, place, or manner for casting ballots. It is sufficient for present purposes to identify certain guideposts that lead to the Court’s decision in these cases.”
Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent that “What is tragic here is that the Court has (yet again) rewritten — in order to weaken — a statute that stands as a monument to America’ greatness, and protects against its basest impulses. What is tragic is that the Court has damaged a statute designed to bring about ‘the end of discrimination in voting.’ I respectfully dissent.”
“This Court has no right to remake Section 2,” Kagan’s dissent read. “Maybe some think that vote suppression is a relic of history—and so the need for a potent Section 2 has come and gone. … But Congress gets to make that call. Because it has not done so, this Court’s duty is to apply the law as it is written. The law that confronted one of this country’s most enduring wrongs; pledged to give every American, of every race, an equal chance to participate in our democracy; and now stands as the crucial tool to achieve that goal. That law, of all laws, deserves the sweep and power Congress gave it. That law, of all laws, should not be diminished by this Court.”
Section 2 is the provision of the Voting Rights Act that seeks to restrict states from making laws that restrict voting access on the basis of racial discrimination.
The Department of Justice under Attorney General Merrick Garland has brought suit against the state of Georgia alleging similar infringements to Section 2.
“The rights of all eligible citizens to vote are the central pillars of our democracy,” Garland said in a news conference at the Justice Department. “They are the rights from which all other rights ultimately flow.”
The lawsuit accuses the law passed in Georgia, SB 202, of discriminating against nonwhite voters and seeks to prove that Georgia lawmakers intended to do so. Garland said the department would deploy all of its available law enforcement options to combat voter discrimination.
This lawsuit, and the SCOTUS decision, come after the For The People Act failed in the Senate to reach the 60 votes necessary to pass.
Signed by Governor Brian Kemp on March 25, the 95-page Georgia law overhauls much of Georgia’s previous voting laws, including making changes to absentee voting, early voting, and voter ID requirements. Many of the changes made consist of the removal of specific pandemic-inspired provisions that were put in place to make it easier to avoid contagion while voting.