Story at a glance

  • Two cases involving the Arizona Republican Party and the Democratic National Committee are up before the Supreme Court.
  • The court has heard oral arguments but has yet to deliver a ruling.
  • The cases deal with a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases Tuesday regarding voting rights and while no decision has been made, the case seems stacked against minority voters.


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For the first time, in both cases, the Supreme Court is considering the section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits practices that "result in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen ... to vote on account of race or color." It allows challenges to such practices after Election Day, but is generally used in redistricting cases, rather than the ballot process itself. 

But the Democratic National Committee is using the provision to challenge two Arizona state laws: one, an "out-of-precinct policy," which does not count provisional ballots cast in person on Election Day outside of the voter's designated precinct, and another, a "ballot-collection law," which restricts who can handle another person's completed early ballot. In its case against the Arizona Republican Party, the DNC alleges that because racial minorities disproportionately vote out of precinct and use "ballot harvesting," these laws violate the Voting Rights Act. 


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In a two-hour telephone argument, the justices "seemed inclined to uphold the pair of Arizona voting restrictions," reported The Hill, but no decision has been made yet. The laws were upheld by district courts, before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the legislation "was enacted with discriminatory intent," and reversed the decision. But the state secured a stay on the ruling, allowing the policies to be enforced in the November presidential elections. 

Last month, the Biden administration's Department of Justice sent a letter to the Supreme Court essentially taking back a brief filed by the agency under the Trump administration in support of the Arizona laws, saying "the previously filed brief does not represent the current views of the state."


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Published on Mar 02, 2021