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Supreme Court to hear GOP effort to reimpose Arizona voting restrictions

Supreme Court to hear GOP effort to reimpose Arizona voting restrictions
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The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a Republican bid to reinstate a pair of Arizona voting restrictions that were struck down by a lower court as racially biased.

The case, which has not been scheduled for argument yet, is the first election-related dispute to be taken up by the court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgMcConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Defusing the judicial confirmation process MORE, a stalwart liberal and fierce defender of voting rights.

The Friday announcement comes as the court is poised to shift further to the right with the anticipated arrival of President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE’s third Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whose confirmation would cement a 6-3 conservative majority.

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A petition for review of the Arizona voting rights case was filed months ago but was discussed for the first time on Tuesday when the eight-member Supreme Court gathered privately for the first meeting of the new term.

The request to reinstate the controversial policies had been backed by Arizona Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyMcSally's final floor speech: 'I gave it my all, and I left it all on the field' Arizona secretary of state calls on Trump, members of Congress to stop 'perpetuating misinformation' Graham becomes center of Georgia storm MORE (R) and more than a half-dozen GOP senators, including Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol MORE of Texas. A conservative litigation shop involved in election lawsuits across the country — and represented by the law firm handling President Trump’s tax returns case — has also lent its support.

Republicans are seeking to reinstate a pair of Arizona voting restrictions that a lower court struck down as racially discriminatory. In ruling against the GOP, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the voting limits in question had the potential to make it harder for people of color to cast ballots in the Grand Canyon State.

One of the disputed policies deals with how Arizona election administrators must handle ballots that are cast at the wrong polling place, or precinct. Under Arizona’s out-of-precinct rule, which has its roots in a policy that dates back to the 1970s, administrators are required to throw away any miscast ballot in its entirety.

Arizona Republicans argue that out-of-precinct policies are common across the U.S. and help ensure ineligible voters do not cast ballots in local races for officeholders who are running to represent a different geographic area.

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But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that in recent elections the rule disproportionately harmed Arizona’s minority populations, who tend to vote Democratic.

The second voting restriction at issue is a 2016 Arizona law that criminalizes the collection and delivery of another person’s ballot, a service which minority voters are overwhelmingly more likely to rely on than white voters. 

Republicans are also seeking for the Supreme Court to reverse the 9th Circuit Court’s decision to strike down Arizona’s restriction on the practice, which is sometimes referred to as "ballot harvesting."