Supreme Court reinstates ban on curbside voting in Alabama

Supreme Court reinstates ban on curbside voting in Alabama
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated a ban on curbside voting in Alabama, reversing a court-ordered accommodation designed to protect disabled voters from exposure to the coronavirus.

The ruling, which halts the lower court order, appeared to break along ideological lines, with the court’s three more liberal justices dissenting. 

Justice Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud The Memo: Trump's justices look set to restrict abortion Five revealing quotes from Supreme Court abortion case  MORE, whose dissent was joined by Justices Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerWhat's that you smell in the Supreme Court? Supreme Court seems poised to consider new limits on right to abortion Supreme Court won't exempt Mass. hospital workers from vaccine mandate MORE and Elena KaganElena KaganPotential Biden Supreme Court pick joins fray over Trump Jan. 6 subpoena Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Why did courts hit pause for Trump — but not Texas abortions? MORE, said that as a result of the Wednesday ruling, "if those vulnerable voters wish to vote in person, they must wait inside, for as long as it takes, in a crowd of fellow voters whom Alabama does not require to wear face coverings."


The dispute stems from a challenge to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s (R) position that curbside voting in the state is prohibited. Merrill has argued that casting ballots outside a polling place creates opportunities for fraud.

A federal district court judge sided with the challengers to block the restriction in counties that were prepared to stand up the option in time for the November election. A divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit voted 2-1 to uphold the lower court order, sparking Merrill’s petition last week to the Supreme Court.

Not all of the justices revealed their votes, as is often typical of emergency applications. But the dissent by the court’s three more liberal justices means at least four of the court’s five more conservative justices agreed to halt the lower court decision.

The impact of the justices action in deep-red Alabama is far less likely to bear on the ultimate outcome of the 2020 presidential race compared to the court’s 4-4 deadlock earlier this week in an election dispute from Pennsylvania.

Polls show President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE with a commanding lead over Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE in Alabama, but a much tighter race in Pennsylvania.

In the Pennsylvania case, the court’s 4-4 split Monday left intact a state court ruling requiring mail ballots to be counted as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3 — or have no legible postmark — and are received up to three days after Election Day.