SCOTUS Opinion: Court Stays District Court’s Order Affecting Wisconsin’s Election

Despite the ongoing danger of COVID-19, Wisconsin decided to go forward with its election on April 7. Since voters would be discouraged from arriving en masse at the polls, it was expected that absentee voting would surge. Various political groups filed suit to ease the burden of absentee voting. Although Wisconsin law required absentee votes to be received by 8 p.m. on the day of the election, the district court entered an order mandating that ballots be accepted until 4 p.m. on April 13, regardless of the postmark date. Other political groups challenged the order, which the Seventh Circuit declined to modify.

In Republican National Committee v. Democratic National Committee, a narrowly divided Court, in a per curiam decision, granted a partial stay, holding that the district court was wrong in permitting absentee votes to be postmarked after election day to be counted. The majority noted that such relief was not requested by any party and changing election rules so close to an election was inappropriate. Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, dissented, arguing that the Court’s ruling would “result in massive disenfranchisement.” A link to the opinion is here: