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 ThomasClarence Thomas warns against 'destroying our institutions,' defends the Supreme Court Supreme Court returning to courtroom for arguments The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand MORE, Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Biden rips 'extreme' new Texas abortion law Six-week abortion ban goes into effect in Texas MORE, Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchPresident Biden's vaccination plan is constitutional — and necessary Religious exemption to vaccine mandates may be difficult to obtain, as Amish case shows Can Biden defend his vaccine mandate? The 'nondelegation doctrine' may be the challenge MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughRepublicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally Senators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh Why isn't Harris leading the charge against the Texas abortion law? 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 TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default 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 Biden said his campaign has assembled 600 attorneys for election-related lawsuits.