Things That Matter

Supreme Court Allows Arizona’s Restrictive Voting Laws But There’s A Way To Fight Back

Since the 2020 election results started to roll in, Republicans have been on a mission to make voting more difficult in states across the country. From Georgia to Idaho, Republican-controlled legislatures have been busy enacting archaic voting restrictions meant to suppress voter turnout among minorities under the guide of election security.

One of the states that enacted sweeping reforms following the results of the 2020 election was Arizona. Those restrictive rules have made their way to the Supreme Court, which just ruled in favor of Republicans allowing the dangerous rules to remain in place.

Arizona wins lawsuit at Supreme Court allowing for restrictive voting reforms.

The Supreme Court delivered a devastating blow to voting rights advocates with a 6-3 decision in favor of Arizona’s new limits on voting. The decision makes it easier for states to to enact voting restrictions, many of which already have.

The ruling, authored by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, held that the restrictions on early ballot collection by third parties and where ballots may be cast did not violate the Voting Rights Act, a landmark 1965 federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

Election law experts said the court’s ruling will make it harder for minority groups to challenge voting laws.

“This significantly dilutes the Voting Rights Act,” Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, told NBC News. “Minority groups will now have to meet a much higher standard beyond showing that a change presents a burden to voting. It puts a thumb on the scale for the states.”

President Joe Biden and other Democrats swiftly condemned the Arizona decision.

President Joe Biden said in a statement that he was “deeply disappointed” in the decision.

“In a span of just eight years, the court has now done severe damage to two of the most important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — a law that took years of struggle and strife to secure,” he said in a statement, arguing that the ruling makes federal voting legislation all the more necessary.

“After all we have been through to deliver the promise of this Nation to all Americans, we should be fully enforcing voting rights laws, not weakening them,” he said. “Yet this decision comes just over a week after Senate Republicans blocked even a debate – even consideration – of the For the People Act that would have protected the right to vote from action by Republican legislators in states across the country.”

But we still have a tool to fight back against the new voter suppression laws.

Although things seems hopeless in Congress, at least when it comes to actually passing any legislation, there are currently two bills under consideration that would help undo the damage of these restrictive election bills.

First is the so-called For The People Act. This bill was introduced in the House but has stalled in the Senate where Republicans shot down an attempt to bring it to the floor for a vote using the fillibuster. The legislation failed to reach the 60-vote threshold for consideration. With little support among moderate Democrats to get rid of the filibuster, this legislation is unlikely to advance.

As a sort of compromise package, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) – who is easily the most conservative Democrat in the senate – has proposed an update to the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. His vote will be pivotal to any plan to pass voting right legislation so his list of do’s and don’t’s is particularly key to watch.

In his proposal, Manchin endorsed banning partisan gerrymandering and supports several key factors from the For The People Act. But he also supports a nationwide voter ID law, for example, although not an especially strict one. And he wants states to be able to engage in “maintenance of voter rolls”— purging names from the state’s list of registered voters — using state and federal documents to identify which voters should be purged.

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