The United States Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to uphold an Arizona law that prohibits votes from out of the district to be counted, and ballot harvesting where third parties collect absentee or mail-in ballots, is forcing congressional Democrats to move swiftly to pass bills that would deregulate voting in states, and potentially federalize some elections.
“The court’s decision, harmful as it is, does not limit Congress’ ability to repair the damage done today: it puts the burden back on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act to its intended strength,” President Joe Biden said in a story by CBS News Friday.
The court’s ruling this week came along ideological lines with conservative justice Samuel Alito writing the deciding opinion.
“Fraud can affect the outcome of a close election, and fraudulent votes dilute the right of citizens to cast ballots that carry appropriate weight. Fraud can also undermine public confidence in the fairness of elections and the perceived legitimacy of the announced outcome,” Alito said, speaking for the majority. “Ensuring that every vote is cast freely, without intimidation or undue influence, is also a valid and important state interest.”
Liberal Justice Elena Kagan criticized the ruling, writing the dissent for the minority.
“What is tragic here is that the Court has (yet again) rewritten — in order to weaken — a statute that stands as a monument to America’s greatness, and protects against its basest impulses,” she wrote. “What is tragic is that the Court has damaged a statute designed to bring about ‘the end of discrimination in voting.'”
The decision is sparking congressional Democrats to rapidly push through bills designed to make voting easier and could potentially federalize some elections rather than have them controlled by the individual states.
H.R. 1, For the People Act, passed by the House in March, addresses voter access, election integrity and security, as well as campaign finance reform and ethics for the three branches of government.
The bill, now in the Senate, would not only reform government ethics, but would allow automatic voter registration and expand access to early and absentee voting. This is similar to what was allowed during the 2020 election as a measure to accommodate COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Another bill, known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would restore a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that would make certain jurisdictions that discriminated based on race, get federal approval before changing state or local voting laws, according to CBS.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the high court’s ruling must be met with immediate congressional action.
”(The decision) only further underscores the need for Congress to act to preserve democracy,” Schumer said. “It is simply unconscionable that the court’s conservative majority chose to double down on their gutting of the Voting Rights Act, failing to properly respond to a wave of restrictive and discriminatory laws in the wake of Shelby [the Arizona court case] and a flood of suppressive laws that have followed President (Donald) Trump’s Big Lie about the November election.”
Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, said the bills restrict states rights and are unnecessary.
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