The Supreme Court of the United States Justices, in a 6-3 decision on Thursday, upheld two Republican-backed Arizona voting restrictions, rejecting claims that they discriminate against minority voters and imposing new limits on the landmark Voting Rights Act.
What the court did was upheld Arizona’s policy requiring provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct be discarded and a second measure making it illegal for most third parties to deliver ballots for others, a practice critics refer to as “ballot harvesting,” basically criminalizing the collection of mail ballots by third-party community groups or campaigns.
President Biden on Thursday denounced the Supreme Court decision and decried the ruling as the latest blow the court has dealt to the Voting Rights Act. He argued the decision raises the stakes for federal action on election reform.
“I am deeply disappointed in today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court that undercuts the Voting Rights Act, and upholds what Justice Kagan called ‘a significant race-based disparity in voting opportunities,'” Biden said in a statement.”
“After all we have been through to deliver the promise of this Nation to all Americans, we should be fully enforcing voting rights laws, not weakening them. Yet this decision comes just over a week after Senate Republicans blocked even a debate – even consideration – of the For the People Act that would have protected the right to vote from action by Republican legislators in states across the country,” Biden concluded.
Democrats had argued that data show both restrictions disproportionately hurt Latino and Native American voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits any policy that “results in the denial or abridgment of the right to vote of any citizen on account of race or color.”
Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the court’s six conservatives, said Section 2 requires equal openness to voting, not equal outcomes. “It appears that the core of Section 2 is the requirement that voting be ‘equally open.’
The statute’s reference to equal ‘opportunity’ may stretch that concept to some degree to include consideration of a person’s ability to use the means that are equally open. But equal openness remains the touchstone,” Alito wrote.
Alito also wrote, “No one suggest that discrimination in voting has been extirpated or that the threat has been eliminated, but Section 2 does not deprive the states of their authority to establish non-discriminatory voting rules.” Alito added, “Mere inconvenience cannot be enough to demonstrate a violation of Section 2.”
Justice Kagan called Alito’s list of guidelines “a list of mostly made-up factors at odds with Section 2 itself.” The law, she says, is written with a focus squarely on the effects of a voting restriction. “It asks not about why state officials enacted a rule, but about whether that rule results in a racial discrimination. The discrimination that is of concern is inequality in voting opportunity.”
Alito lashed back, calling Kagan’s interpretation “radical.”
“This is a ruling that definitely will make it easier for states to impose restrictions, harder for plaintiffs and voting rights groups to challenge these kinds of restrictions, and could really impact the outcome in close elections going forward,” said Kate Shaw, Cardozo law professor and ABC News legal analyst.
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel who’s done next to nothing when it comes to helping conservatives towards midterms, social media censorship, and working in the audits in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Georgia called it a “resounding victory for election integrity. Democrats were attempting to make Arizona ballots less secure for political gain, and the Court saw right through their partisan lies,” she said in a statement.
Regardless of the RNC Chairwoman’s lack of doing anything, it’s still a big win for conservatives as a whole.