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    SCOTUS reinstates South Carolina witness requirement for absentee ballots

    SCOTUS reinstates South Carolina witness requirement for absentee ballots

    Issues stay of District Court injunction pending appeal to the 4th Circuit. This Stay may signal a SCOTUS willingness to stop lower courts from rewriting election rules so close to the election.

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    There have been a series of district court and appeals court decisions (plus a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision), in which the judiciary substitutes its judgment in place of state legislatures as to voting requirements for absentee and mail-in ballots. Extending ballot deadlines and waiting procedural safeguards have been part of the Democrat push to alter the rules by judicial fiat.

    Those cases are working their way to the Supreme Court.

    The Court just issued an Order in Andino v. Middleton, with no dissents, staying a district court order barring South Carolina from enforcing its witness requirement for absentee ballots pending an appeal to the 4th Circuit. So the case may be back in front of SCOTUS again before the election.

    Justice Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion offers an explanation of the case background and the legal roadmap opponents of other lower court rulings can follow:

    The application for stay presented to THE CHIEF JUSTICE and by him referred to the Court is granted in part, and the district court’s September 18, 2020 order granting a preliminary injunction is stayed pending disposition of the appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is timely sought. Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate upon the sending down of the judgment of this Court. The order is stayed except to the extent that any ballots cast before this stay issues and received within two days of this order may not be rejected for failing to comply with the witness requirement.

    JUSTICE THOMAS, JUSTICE ALITO, and JUSTICE GORSUCH would grant the application in full.

    JUSTICE KAVANAUGH, concurring in grant of application for stay.

    The District Court enjoined South Carolina’s witness requirement for absentee ballots because the court disagreed with the State’s decision to retain that requirement during the COVID–19 pandemic. For two alternative and independent reasons, I agree with this Court’s order staying in part the District Court’s injunction.

    First, the Constitution “principally entrusts the safety and the health of the people to the politically accountable officials of the States.” South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, 590 U. S. ___, ___ (2020) (ROBERTS, C. J., concurring in denial of application for injunctive relief) (slip op., at 2) (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted). “When those officials ‘undertake[ ] to act in areas fraught with medical and scientific uncertainties,’ their latitude ‘must be especially broad.’” Ibid. (quoting Marshall v. United States, 414 U. S. 417, 427 (1974); alteration in original). It follows that a State legislature’s decision either to keep or to make changes to election rules to address COVID–19 ordinarily “should not be subject to secondguessing by an ‘unelected federal judiciary,’ which lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people.” South Bay, 590 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 2) (citing Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, 469 U. S. 528, 545 (1985)). The District Court’s injunction contravened that principle.

    Second, for many years, this Court has repeatedly emphasized that federal courts ordinarily should not alter state election rules in the period close to an election. See Purcell v. Gonzalez, 549 U. S. 1 (2006) (per curiam). By enjoining South Carolina’s witness requirement shortly before the election, the District Court defied that principle and this Court’s precedents. See ___ F. 3d ___, ___–___ (CA4 2020) (Wilkinson and Agee, JJ., dissenting from denial of stay).

    For those two alternative and independent reasons, I agree with this Court’s order staying in part the District Court’s injunction.

    This Stay may signal a SCOTUS willingness to stop lower courts, at Democrats’ behest, from rewriting election rules so close to the election.

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    Comments



     
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    2smartforlibs | October 6, 2020 at 7:37 am

    Why are we even here? Because the left spent 100 plus years attempting a takeover and they were one election away and we elected Trump.

    Would it have been 8-1 or closer if Ginsberg were still breathing? Not sure Kagan and crew break ranks against her.

    Make no mistake, if the 2020 election continues beyond Election Day into litigation to determine a winner, the primary focus of all the parties will initially be the elimination of mail-in ballots that do not meet the numerous statutory requirements to be counted. Mail-in ballots are the low-hanging fruit in an election contest and the easiest way to put the true outcome of an election in question and thereby allow the courts to determine the winner. This situation is easily remedied by Americans simply showing up at the polls and voting in person.


       
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      CommoChief in reply to Neo. | October 6, 2020 at 1:10 pm

      Neo

      Disagree. The d will try to push for extensions of time for counting. They will then push for a relaxation of ballot security measures; witness signatures etc. All in an attempt to create more d votes.

      They will likely not succeed if the courts begin to apply the simple standard that the state legislature is charged by our constitution to determine the process for selecting presidential electors.

      There isn’t a path around that obstacle. Where the executive or judicial branch has allowed creativity for Rona in making changes to election laws they will be stopped, at least in regard to presidential electors.

      Could some of these shenanigans stick for state offices? Maybe but maybe not.

      The d goal is to sow chaos. Folks are already submitting early mail in ballots. Now apply the similar witness requirements to in other states to these ballots. Lots of spoiled ballots.

      Oh the horror …your voices are being silenced… Trump is a dictator… etc. The scheme isn’t to have these illegitimate ballots counted, though the d would obviously take that outcome. The true goal is to create chaos and diminish a Trump victory.

      The d and the MSM can then set about their goals of obstruction and destabilizing the 2nd Trump term.

    “should not be subject to secondguessing by an ‘unelected federal judiciary,’ which lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people.

    Apparently the bar to impeachment is set so high that even the Supreme Court can publicly announce that impeachment doesn’t really exist. What a fascinating reveal!

    I can appreciate the strength of tenure needed in order to maintain in independent judiciary. But perhaps a rethink might be in order here. States appoint their judges, and those judges are then subject to repeated ‘retain or recall’ votes. Could there be some hybrid mix for the accountability of Federal judges, too?


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