The ruling will limit the ability of minorities to challenge government laws that they believe are discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act.
The votes in this case are 6: 3 and break along conservative-liberal ideological lines. Judge Samuel Alito gave the majority opinion.
The court upheld two provisions of Arizona law. The first provision states that personal ballots cast in the wrong district on election day must be completely discarded. Another provision restricts a practice known as “polling”, which states that only family carers, postmen and polling officers can take someone else’s completed ballot to a polling station.
“Given the principles outlined above, neither the Arizona County Code nor the Ballot Collection Act violates Section 2 of the VRA,” Alito wrote. “Arizona’s out-of-district rule enforces that voters wishing to vote in person on polling day must do so in their assigned constituencies. Identifying your own polling station and then traveling there to vote does not exceed the” usual burdens “. vote.'”
The case comes as several Republican-led states, encouraged by former President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of widespread electoral fraud, contemplate more restrictive laws, and Democrats engage in a frantic court battle to combat what President Joe Biden calls an “attack on.” which democracy “has designated.”
Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said Thursday’s Supreme Court decision regarding voting rights and the repeal of a California rule requiring nonprofits soliciting donations to keep a list of theirs Contributors to the state public prosecutor general, shows “full taste” of the new Conservative majority in the court.
“By narrowing the Voting Rights Act and removing California’s donor disclosure requirements, the court is giving Republicans two great legal and political victories – decisions that probably wouldn’t have been possible three years ago are a clear and unquestionable harbinger of the future.” said Vladeck on Thursday.
History of the lawsuit in Arizona
The U.S. 9th Court of Appeals invalidated both Arizona provisions under Section 2 of the Suffrage Act, highlighting the state’s “long history of racial discrimination against Native American, Hispanic, and African American citizens and a” pattern of discrimination against minority voters continues to this day at.”
While the Democratic National Committee asked the judges to uphold the verdict, the Arizona Attorney General, the State Republican Party and the former Trump Department of Justice urged the court to overturn a lower court, uphold the rules, and set a legal standard that It could make it more difficult to assert claims under the Voting Rights Act in the future.
Arizona Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich told judges that the electoral rules are “reasonable measures of electoral integrity that do not vary in impact on racial minorities but serve us all equally well.”
“Arizona fully supports the goal of the Suffrage Act to end racial discrimination in elections,” he told judges, adding that claims showing that the bill has different effects on minority voters can go ahead. Without such an appearance, he said, “Section 2 would exceed the powers of Congress to enforce the reconstruction changes, inappropriately infuse race into all electoral law, and impede a state’s ability to conduct its elections.”
Michael Carvin, an attorney for the state GOP, took a tougher line. He asked the judges to determine that no appeals involving neutral “time, type or place” restrictions could be made under Section 2. This could help give the green light to many of the laws that are currently being passed in states like Texas and Georgia.
Texas, for example, is pushing for an out-of-hours voting ban and a mandate to limit early Sunday voting and require voters who request postal ballot papers to provide their driver’s license or social security number.
For its part, the Biden administration filed a letter with the court agreeing that Arizona’s two provisions did not violate the Suffrage Act, but rejected a proposal to limit future claims under the law.
In court, DNC attorney Bruce Spiva reminded judges that “election discrimination still exists, no one questions it”. He said minorities were twice as likely to be affected by the outside of the county bill, in part because of the confusing layout of polling stations, and that the ballot collection bill was affecting Native Americans and Hispanic Americans who rely on postal ballots.
“There have been more electoral restrictions in the last decade than ever since the end of Jim Crow,” said Spiva, adding that “in the past three months, the proposed electoral restrictions have increased even further, with many targeted directly at the minority.” . Groups whose participation Congress wanted to protect. ”
Reliance on Section 2
Eight years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 5-4 majority opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, effectively eradicating Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a provision requiring states with a history of discrimination to seek federal government permission or the courts – known as “preliminary investigations” – before enacting new laws relating to voting.
The judges overturned the provision of the law that determined which states would be covered and left it to Congress to update the formula. Congress has yet to act. Since then, opponents of the voting rules had turned to Section 2 of the law, which bans laws that lead to discrimination. This section does not allow actions until the restriction has taken effect.
In the years that followed, states that were once subject to these pre-authorization provisions made far-reaching changes to their voting rules. This includes Arizona, which passed its law in 2016 restricting who can return a ballot on behalf of a voter.
The Arizona court ruling is believed to be critical to the ongoing struggles for voting rights, as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is one of the few remaining legal instruments to counter laws that are viewed as disenfranchising blacks and other minority voters.
The U.S. Department of Justice is relying on Section 2 to sue the state of Georgia over the multitude of electoral restrictions the GOP-controlled legislation put in place this year. These new regulations, which include casting most votes outside of the county and restricting ballot box locations, were passed with the intent of “denying or restricting the right to vote for black Georgians based on race or color,” the DOJ claimed.
Other groups suing the enforcement of restrictive laws in Georgia and other states have also focused, at least in part, on the anti-discrimination provisions of Section 2.
This year has brought a wave of new laws restricting access to voting. Republican sponsors – spurred on by Trump’s unsubstantiated fraud allegations – say the new measures are needed to prevent wrongdoing and restore confidence in an electoral system where record numbers of Americans cast their votes by mail and other voting options that changed during the coronavirus Pandemic.
Democrats and supporters of the right to vote say the laws aim to discourage voting, especially among minorities, students and people with disabilities.
According to the liberal Brennan Center for Justice, a total of 17 states passed 28 new voting restrictions as of June 21.
More borders might be on the way.
In July, Republicans in the Texan legislature are embarking on a special session in which they are likely to revive some of the nation’s most restrictive electoral borders. The Texas proposals could impose postal voting restrictions, give new powers to bipartisan election observation, and target new electoral methods – such as drive-through and 24-hour voting – last seen in populous Harris County, home of Houston, last year.
Democrats in Congress are working on a new version of the electoral law that seeks to restore the federal government’s ability to pre-approve changes in electoral practice in some states. However, Republican opposition to the law makes this update unlikely to pass in a 50-50 Senate unless moderate Democrats agree to lower the 60-vote threshold required to be a filibuster in the To overcome Senate to move legislation forward.
This story has been updated.