SCOTUS rejects request from Texas Democrats to expand mail-in ballot voting, GOP wins...for now

On Friday the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) delivered a victory to Texas Republicans. They agreed to stay out of a dispute that would allow a change in mail-in voting. For now, SCOTUS kept in place a lower court order blocking a request from state Democratic leaders to expand the mail-in ballot option. The Supreme Court it staying out of it until the case is litigated.

The interesting part of this decision is that all of the justices agreed with the decision to stay out of the battle for now. An application to vacate the stay was presented to Justice Samuel Alito, who then referred the case to the Supreme Court. The Court denied vacating the stay. The only reaction reported was that Justice Sotomayor wrote a simple opinion that she hopes the Court of Appeals hears the case before the November election.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that “I do not disagree with the decision to refrain from addressing them for the first time here, in the context of an emergency application to vacate a stay of an injunction. But I hope that the Court of Appeals will consider the merits of the legal issues in this case well in advance of the November election.”

This all began when Texas Democrats decided to use the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to implement full statewide mail-in voting. The reason stated was that voters shouldn’t have to risk their health to go and vote. Texas offers the mail-in voting option if a voter meets specific requirements – age 65 or older, disabled or ill, or if the voter will be out of the county on election day. Texas Democrats claimed that a lack of immunity from the coronavirus qualifies voters under the disability provision for using mail-in ballots.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, a Clinton appointee, ruled that all Texas voters can now be considered as “disabled” due to concerns over the safety of voting in person during the coronavirus pandemic. Thus, every Texan can vote by mail. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans blocked Judge Biery’s order. The Fifth Circuit decision even claimed his ruling “will be remembered more for audacity than legal reasoning.”

Texas Democrats insist that mail-in voting must be made available to all voters during this election cycle, including the November 3 presidential election. The coronavirus pandemic is a nifty excuse to use for their fever dream. Election officials are planning provisions for personal safety for voters while they are at polling places to vote. Early voting begins July 14 for primary runoffs in some Texas races.

President Trump is vehemently opposed to using mass mail-in voting. He was pleased with the ruling against Texas Democrats for the time being, while the case is litigated.

What the Democrats fail to understand is that all the big protests and gatherings (like the memorials and funeral for George Floyd) have not done them any favors. When they argue that something like voting in-person is too dangerous because of the coronavirus outbreak, their argument doesn’t hold up. If people can turn out for big events and gatherings, they can stand in line to vote, using social distancing and facial masks, of course.

Texas Republicans will take the win. The court battle continues. Texas is one of several states where this battle is taking place. The Democrats have one mandate – never let a crisis go to waste.

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