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The Supreme Court will let Pennsylvania State University accept absentee ballots after election day



WASHINGTON-In two decisions welcomed by Democrats, the Supreme Court on Wednesday at least temporarily allowed election officials in the two key battleground states of Pennsylvania and North Carolina to accept absentee ballots in the days following election day.

In the Pennsylvania case, the court rejected the request of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, asking the court to decide before election day whether the state can continue to count absentee ballots within three days after November 3.

In the North Carolina case, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling, which allowed the state’s election commission to extend the deadline from three days requested by the electors to nine days after the election day.

The court’s brief orders in both cases were not signed and no reasons were given.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the court on Tuesday, did not participate in the case. A court spokeswoman said that Justice Barrett said that she did not attend because “this issue needs to be resolved immediately because she does not have time to fully review the documents of the parties.”

In the Pennsylvania case, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Golac Gorsuch said together that the court can still consider the case after election day.

“I reluctantly concluded that there was simply not enough time to decide on the pre-election issues at this later date,” Judge Alito wrote.

He wrote: “Although the court rejected the motion to expedite the application for review, the petition is still before us. If approved, the case can be decided in a shorter period of time.”

The court order uses an unusual symbol to indicate that “other opinions may arise.”

The court’s refusal to act faster in the Pennsylvania case came more than a week after the emergency application for the same case was deadlocked 4-4. The Pennsylvania Republican Party has asked judges to temporarily block the state’s Supreme Court’s ruling, which allows election officials to count some mailed votes received within three days of election day.

The state court stated that due to the coronavirus pandemic and delays in mail services, additional time is required.

State Republicans apparently hope that the arrival of Justice Barrett will change the judicial calculations, so they returned to the Supreme Court on Friday and asked him to hear ordinary appeals from state courts. This is not uncommon, but it reduces the usual procedures. Months to days, this must be.

In a statement, Justice Alito criticized the court’s handling of the case, saying that this “unnecessarily created conditions that could lead to serious post-election problems.”

He wrote: “The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an decree directly amending an important legal provision enacted by the Pennsylvania legislature under its mandate under the US Constitution,” he wrote.

This echoes the unanimous opinion of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the Wisconsin case on Monday. Judge Kavanaugh also stated that the state legislature, not the state court, is the final decision on the state election process.

Judge Alito said in a letter on Wednesday that he regrets that the election will be “in the cloud.”

He wrote: “It is very desirable to make a ruling on the constitutionality of the state Supreme Court’s decision before the election.” “This issue is of national importance, and the state Supreme Court’s ruling is very likely to violate the Federal Constitution.

He wrote: “The federal constitution gives the state legislatures rather than the state courts, the power to govern federal election rules will be meaningless,” he wrote, “if the state courts can simply declare that the legislature can surpass the legislature to pass The country’s constitution stipulates that the courts are empowered to make any rules they consider suitable for fair elections.”

Earlier Wednesday, Pennsylvania officials told the court that they had instructed county election officials to separate ballots between 8 pm on election day and 5 pm three days later. This may allow the court to make a ruling in the future to decide whether it will eventually be counted.

Republican lawyers wrote in a motion seeking to expedite consideration of the case that the court’s general briefing schedule “will not consider and decide the case before the election result must be finalized.”

The motion said: “Once a candidate takes office, it is impossible to repair the election results caused by illegal and late voting or mail voting.”

The motion stated that when the court reached a deadlock on October 19, the four justices had already stated their position. Judges Thomas, Alito, Gorach and Kavanov said they will grant the suspension to block the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling. On the other side are Chief Justice John G. Roberts (John G. Roberts Jr.) and the court’s three liberals: Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor (Sonia Sotomayor) and Elena Kagan (Elena Kagan).

Neither party gave a reason, and the differences indicate that if the court finally hears the case, Justice Barrett may play a decisive role.

The Democratic Party of Pennsylvania responded to a motion seeking to expedite the processing of the Republican appeal, calling the request “reckless and despicable.”

The response stated: “Even with the extremely urgent timetable proposed by Republicans, the court’s ruling will not be actually issued until the eve of the election.”

It added: “By then, it will be too late for many voters in Pennsylvania, and they will rely on existing rules to accommodate any changes in the rules that the court may impose.”

The response stated that the issues that the court will resolve in just a few days are serious and complex, including the role that state courts may play in regulating federal elections.

“It is unimaginable. Such a major issue will be fully briefed and finalized in just a few days. At the same time, voters in Pennsylvania will be severely unfairly treated and will be given the responsibility for the implementation of the election. Officials have brought a new major burden to this election,” the response said.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered an extension of three days for ballots that were clearly mailed on or before election day and ballots with missing or illegible postmarks, “unless there is substantial evidence that the ballots were mailed after election day.”

The U.S. Supreme Court did not hesitate to block the orders of federal judges who tried to change the rules of state elections. State court rulings raise more difficult questions because the Supreme Court usually delays them in cases involving the interpretation of state laws, and the Constitution authorizes the state legislature to determine the time, place, and method of congressional elections.

Republicans argued in a previous briefing that “the Constitution reserves a special role for state legislatures in federal elections”, which cannot be overturned by state courts. This briefing largely depends on the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore (the 2000 ruling that transferred the president to George W. Bush).

The briefing stated: “By extending the deadline for the judicial period and determining the presumption of timeliness, so that voters can vote or mail ballots after the election day, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court does not allow changes to the established’time’ and’method’ to be carried out by the General Assembly. “.

In response, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (Josh Shapiro) stated that the state constitution that protects “free and equal elections” allows the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to extend the deadline.


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