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Supreme Court denies GOP bid to block extended mail ballot due date in Pennsylvania

The Supreme Court on Monday left intact an extended mail-in ballot due date in Pennsylvania, handing a major defeat to Republicans.

The court's four more-conservative justices — Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasVernon Jordan: an American legend, and a good friend Kavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits Laurence Tribe: Justice Thomas is out of order on 2020 election MORE, Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoJustices hear sparring over scope of safeguards for minority voters Kavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits Laurence Tribe: Justice Thomas is out of order on 2020 election MORE, Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchJustices raise bar for noncitizens to challenge removal from US after conviction Supreme Court faces landmark challenge on voting rights Kavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughTrump promises to travel to Alaska to campaign against Murkowski Disgraced former media darling Andrew Cuomo must resign, but more for this reason Justices hear sparring over scope of safeguards for minority voters MORE — would have halted a lower court ruling from taking effect, strongly suggesting that Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the three liberal justices to form a 4-4 tie that left in place the lower court's decision.

Pennsylvania Republicans and top officials from the state’s GOP-held legislature had asked the justices to review a state supreme court court ruling that requires election officials to accept ballots postmarked by Election Day, as long as they arrive within three days.

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The ruling was seen as a win for Democrats in the key battleground state — which President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE won in 2016 by more than 44,000 votes — since Democratic voters are considered more likely than Trump supporters to vote by mail in November.

Marc Elias, a top Democratic election lawyer who has been involved in dozens of election-related lawsuits in the 2020 race, hailed the development.

“GREAT NEWS for voting rights and voters in Pennsylvania!” he wrote on Twitter.

Hundreds of election-related fights have been waged this cycle, the most intensely litigated election in U.S. history, over how ballots are cast amid the pandemic and how votes will be counted. 

The Republican National Committee has pledged $20 million this cycle to oppose Democratic-backed efforts to ease voting restrictions while Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Myanmar military conducts violent night raids Confidence in coronavirus vaccines has grown with majority now saying they want it MORE said his campaign has assembled 600 attorneys for election-related lawsuits.