“Judges nominated by President Trump play key role in upholding voting limits ahead of Election Day”


Federal judges nominated by President Trump have largely ruled against efforts to loosen voting rules in the 2020 campaign amid the coronavirus pandemic and sided with Republicans seeking to enforce restrictions, underscoring Trump’s impact in reshaping the judiciary.

An analysis by The Washington Post found that nearly three out of four opinions issued in federal voting-related cases by judges picked by the president were in favor of maintaining limits. That is a sharp contrast with judges nominated by President Barack Obama, whose decisions backed such limits 17 percent of the time….

Trump nominees have not uniformly sided with Republicans. But many have ruled in favor of the GOP in major cases involving rules about mail voting, ballot deadlines and signature requirements that have affected millions of Americans, many of whom are casting votes by mail for the first time because of concerns about the health risks of in-person voting….

A Trump nominee also joined the majority in a Tennessee case in October to uphold signature-match rules for mail ballots. That decision, rejecting a challenge from voting rights groups, drew a sharp dissent from Judge Karen Nelson Moore, a nominee of President Bill Clinton. She broadly criticized her judicial colleagues throughout the country, listing a series of cases in which she said courts “have sanctioned a systematic effort to suppress voter turnout and undermine the right to vote.”

“Many courts are chipping away at votes that ought to be counted. It is a disgrace to the federal courts’ foundational role in ensuring democracy’s function, and a betrayal to the persons that wish to participate in it fully,” Moore wrote.

“On its own, today’s ruling may not—likely will not—change the course of this election. But it is another drop in the bucket that is the degradation of the right to vote in this country. … I fear the day we come out from behind the courthouse doors only to realize these drops have become a flood.”

Nationally, the number of election-related lawsuits has nearly tripled in the years since the contested 2000 presidential election and Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore, according to Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert and professor at the University of California at Irvine School of Law who has tracked related litigation since 1996. The massive increase in legal action this cycle, more than 300 cases so far, is driven largely by coronavirus-related challenges to existing restrictions or to changes in the rules designed to make it easier to vote by mail because of the risks associated with in-person voting during a pandemic.

Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that there is a heightened risk of fraud with mail ballots and wrongly suggested again this week that it would be illegal for states to count ballots received after Election Day.


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