Election Disputes: A half dozen emergency legal disputes over election rules have been kicked up to the Supreme Court. In most cases, the conservative court has stuck together to side with the party wanting to maintain restrictive voting laws that have been relaxed by lower courts. So, Ginsburg’s death doesn’t change that dynamic.
However, the one exception to the trend was a case out of Rhode Island, where the RNC was trying to overturn a consent decree the state had reached with voter advocates that opened up absentee voting. Three conservatives noted their dissents publicly, but it’s possible that a fourth conservative also would have ruled in the RNC’s favor (justices aren’t required to note their dissents publicly in these kinds of emergency disputes). So Ginsburg’s death may open up the door for the RNC or other outside groups to overturn at SCOTUS the legal agreements states have reached to make voting easier.
Perhaps the even bigger question is what her death means for any hypothetical disputes — a la Bush v. Gore — that arise after the election. The speculation on how those would play out center on Chief Justice Roberts’ instinct towards stirring the court away from highly politicized decisions when possible. But he may lose some leverage if the other conservatives can band together to deadlock a case. This means the way lower courts handle major post-election disputes will take on extra importance.