Supreme Court upholds Arizona voting restrictions, ruling they're not discriminatory

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Posted at 8:10 AM, Jul 01, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday to uphold two Arizona voting restrictions, rejecting claims that the provisions discriminate against people of color.

The court was split on the landmark voting rights case. The vote was 6-3 along ideological lines.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Justice Elena Kagan filed a dissenting opinion and was joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

Alito wrote that the state of Arizona’s interest in the integrity of elections justified the measures, while Kagan argued that the court was weakening Voting Rights Act for the second time in eight years.

“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. What is tragic is that the Court has damaged a statute designed to bring about ‘the end of discrimination in voting.’ I respectfully dissent,” wrote Kagan.

The ruling could have far-reaching implications as Republicans have introduced a slew of bills in statehouses across the country that attempt to limit how and when Americans can cast a ballot.

The decision could make it more difficult to challenge those voting measures that were put in place by GOP lawmakers in the wake of last year’s election.

The case, which was argued in February, involves Arizona state laws that a lower court has already ruled violated the Voting Rights Act because they disproportionately keep voters of color from casting a ballot.

One of those laws prevents others from assisting a voter in returning their ballot — which the Ninth Circuit ruled disproportionally hurt Native American voters who do not receive postal service to their doorstep.

The second law says votes that are cast at the wrong precinct should be thrown out completely, which the Ninth Circuit ruled was discriminatory against Native American, Hispanic, and Black voters.

The Ninth Circuit is known for issuing more liberal rulings than other appeals courts. The Supreme Court — which now features six conservative-leaning judges among its panel of nine — has already overturned several of its rulings during its term this year.

Thursday's ruling also comes as Democrat-backed efforts in Congress to pass a sweeping voting rights bill collapsed last week, as Senate Republicans filibustered the legislation in the Senate.