Supreme Court Rejects Dems Bid for Universal Vote-by-Mail in Texas

Written by Martin Walsh

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday steered clear of more cases involving bids by President Donald Trump and some Republican allies to overturn his election loss and turned away a Democratic effort to expand mail-in voting in Texas.

The justices, as expected, declined to expedite consideration of eight Trump-related cases including three filed by his campaign challenging the election results in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, two of the states he lost to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.

Texas state law makes mail-in ballots available only for people age 65 and older or for voters who meet specific disability guidelines.

The state Democratic Party and some voters sued the Republican-governed state, arguing that by treating voters differently by age, the Texas law violated the U.S. Constitution’s 26th Amendment guarantee of the right to vote for American citizens age 18 and above.

But the Supreme Court left in place a lower court ruling that sided with Texas in the lawsuit.

The court’s only comment on the decision came from liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who said she agrees with the ruling but indicated the Democrats’ case “raises weighty but seemingly novel questions regarding the Twenty-Sixth Amendment” and urged the appeals court to consider the case in a timely manner before the general election.

“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,” Sotomayor said.

The Democrats had gone to court to try to enable all eligible voters in Texas to vote by mail during last year’s election cycle, including the presidential election, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In June, the high court rebuffed an earlier emergency request by Democrats seeking to allow broader mail-in voting. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier that month blocked a ruling by U.S. District Judge Fred Biery in favor of the Democrats and in September threw out Biery’s decision.

Democrats have accused Republicans in various states of pursuing policies intended to make it more difficult to vote.

There was a nationwide surge in voting by mail in the 2020 election as voters concerned about COVID-19 sought to avoid crowds at polling places.

The election results showed that Democratic voters, in particular, relied upon mail-in ballots, with Trump and other Republicans making unfounded claims about fraud with such voting.