The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed two key swing states to count mail-in ballots sent by Election Day days after November 3, The New York Times reports.
The court rejected a request from Pennsylvania Republicans for an expedited ruling on its challenge to a state Supreme Court decision that allowed election officials to count ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted until three days after November 3.
The court previously split 4-4 on the issue but there were no noted dissents in the unsigned order refusing the request.
Republicans may have been hoping that newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett could cast the deciding tie-breaking vote in the case but Barrett declined to participate in the case “because of the need for a prompt resolution” and “because she has not had time to fully review the parties’ filings.”
Court allows NC extension too:
The court also allowed a lower court ruling that allowed the North Carolina board of elections to extend the deadline to receive ballots postmarked by Election Day from three days to nine days after November 3.
Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch issued dissents in the case, arguing that they would have blocked the lower court ruling.
“In the past three years alone, the board has twice extended the absentee-ballot receipt deadline after hurricanes hit the state’s coast,” the board of elections said in a court brief. “No one challenged those extensions.”
SCOTUS may rule on PA case after election:
Alito signaled that the court may take up the Pennsylvania case after the election, posing the possibility that late-arriving ballots may still be thrown out.
“I reluctantly conclude that there is simply not enough time at this late date to decide the question before the election,” he wrote. “Although the court denies the motion to expedite” the request, the petition “remains before us, and if it is granted, the case can then be decided under a shortened schedule.”
“It would be highly desirable to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of the State Supreme Court’s decision before the election,” he added. “That question has national importance, and there is a strong likelihood that the State Supreme Court decision violates the federal Constitution.”