A divided Supreme Court ruled today that there is no right time to file a case contending that an election law unconstitutionally violates the right to vote protected by the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.
On a 6-3 vote, the Court in an unsigned (per curiam) opinion explained that lawsuits protecting voting rights cannot be filed well before the election, because in those cases the claims are “unripe” and plaintiffs lack standing due to the speculative nature of such claims. But claims cannot be filed too close to the election, under what has come to be known as the “Purcell Principle,” because changes in election laws close to the election risk confusion of voters and election administrators.
“Although we held in the 1886 case of Yick Wo v. Hopkins that voting rights are fundamental because they are ‘preservative’ of all other rights, that is no excuse to ignore limits on the courts’ jurisdiction to hear only ‘cases and controversies’ and to limit states’ unfettered ability to suppress the vote for political reasons,” the opinion explains.
Fresh on the heels of a new restrictive voting law prohibiting the provision of even water to voters who wait in line to vote, Georgia legislators on the last day of the legislative session advanced a measure criminalizing line-standing. Under the bill, any voter waiting more than 30 minutes in a voting line may be criminally punished for illegal loitering. Governor Kemp is expected to sign the measure.
“We understand in big cities, where lines typically are the longest, people want to vote like other Georgians,” a statement from Republican legislative leaders read. “But those rights need to be balanced with the right to tranquility and quiet in our streets.”
The Honest Elections Project praised the bill as a “common sense” measure aimed at bolstering voter confidence and preventing fraud. Heritage Action said the proposed law was necessary to prevent non-citizens in big cities from voting.
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The most 2018 story so far.
Sunday’s main segment was on felony disenfranchisement and Florida’s Amendment 4. With, you know, a few asides.
During an oral argument monologue lasting more than 15 minutes in a Maryland partisan gerrymandering case, Justice Stephen Breyer suggested that solving the partisan gerrymandering problem would be “simple” if the Justices simply spent enough time to develop “a multi-factor totality of the circumstances test containing at least nine elements with a burden-shifting component to ferret out unjustified partisan entrenchment.” He implored Justice Kennedy to remain on the Court through the 2020 elections to see the project through.
Following the monologue, Chief Justice Roberts commented, “Oh please.”
After the embarrassing collapse earlier this year of President Trump’s handpicked commission headed by Vice Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to investigate purported voter fraud in the 2016 elections, the President is trying again but with a new leader, comedian Rosanne Barr.
Barr, whose reboot of the “Roseanne” television series about white working class voters drew record viewership last week, attracted the attention of Trump for channelling the views of core Trump voters. Trump has lately turned to television stars for leadership positions in the administration, but this is the first time he has picked a sitcom star.
Trump explained the decision in a series of tweets. One read: “Kris Kobach did not even know the basic rules of evidence when he tried to defend Kansas’s law to prevent hordes of non-citizens from voting. Sad!” Another read: “It’s not true that @VP called the last commission a ‘shit sandwich.’ Fake news!”
He explained the choice of Barr by tweeting: “Did you see those ‘Roseanne’ ratings? If she can reboot that show so well she can reboot the VOTER FRAUD commission figure out how many ILLEGALS are voting in our elections. Democrats support voter fraud and hate America. HAPPY EASTER.”
Fresh off an unsuccessful attempt to ignore state law and a overturn a state court order requiring the holding of special legislative elections to fill unplanned vacancies, Wisconsin legislative leaders have been examining proposals to cancel or delay the 2018 elections for Wisconsin’s eight congressional seats. Facing a Democratic electorate mobilized against the Trump presidency and ready to vote in November and worried about the prospect of losing Republican control of the House of Representatives, the North Carolina general assembly is considering similar legislation, after successfully manipulating the rules for judicial elections in the state for 2018 only.
One Republican legislator in Wisconsin, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing his constituents, said that “in a wave election, voter id laws just don’t do the job.”
“We both won the election despite losing the popular vote, though back in my day we didn’t let Russians rig our elections. We used the Supreme Court—like Americans.”
—“George W. Bush” (Will Ferrell on SNL).