Earlier today the U.S. Supreme Court put on hold a district court injunction against changes to Ohio’s voting rules. Splitting 5-4, the Court granted the order sought by the state, overturning the judgment of a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. No opinions accompanied the order. A petition for rehearing en banc remains pending before the Sixth Circuit.
As a consequence of the Court’s order, recently enacted changes to Ohio’s voting rules will be in effect for the November elections. Among the changes are a reduction in the in-person early voting period from 35 days before the election to 28 days, a reduction in weekend voting, and the elimination of nighttime early voting. Here are early reports from SCOTUSBlog, the Columbus Dispatch and the Post’s Robert Barnes.
At Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen comments:
while the Court did not offer a reason for its order today, it is very likely that the conservative Supreme Court majority did not believe in the very expansive views of equal protection and section 2 of the Voting Rights Act endorsed by the very liberal district court judge and 6th Circuit panel below.
I think it was a mistake to bring this Ohio case. I am not convinced that it is a significant burden on voters to cut back a week off early voting including the last Sunday. Really, if 28 days is too little early voting, what does this say about New York, with NO period of early voting? I do not buy the“context” argument about Ohio in part because these cutbacks are so minor.
I am worried this case will make bad law, . . . I have argued that when there is a significant burden on voters imposed for no good reason, or imposed for a partisan reason, then courts should shut down voting restrictions. The Ohio case did not involve significant burdens, and the theories accepted by the district court and 6th Circuit panel were vast constitutional expansions of voting rights. As Ned Foley reminded us, not everything that is good policy is constitutionally required.
How Appealing rounds up more coverage here.