Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Voting Restrictions In Key 6-3 Decision On Last Day Of Term

The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority asserted its dominance Thursday, upholding voting restrictions in Arizona in one of its final decisions of the session. The 6-3 decision eroded hopes of successful legal challenges to restrictive voting laws in dozens of states including Georgia.

The ruling on Mark Brnovich, Attorney General of Arizona v. Democratic National Committee lets stand two restrictions: one discounts votes cast in the wrong precinct and the other makes it a crime for anyone other than a family member, caretaker or election worker to collect early mail-in ballots.

A District Court in the initial case rejected claims that the rules had an adverse effect on the the state’s minority populations — and that the ballot-collection restriction in particular was enacted with discriminatory intent. That ruling, later reversed, has now been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Justice Alito, delivering the majority opinion, said plaintiffs had not provided statistical or concrete evidence showing that the laws had a disparate impact on minority voters or that they were enacted with discriminatory intent – in other words that neither violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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The opinion also punted to Congress as the proper branch to enact changes in the law if desired. That’s something many Democrats would like but is currently out of reach given the filibuster rule in the Senate. The decision today is thought likely to increase pressure on Democrats Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema to eliminate the filibuster, which requires a 60 vote threshold – not a simple majority – to approve any legislation that’s not budget related.

Justice Kagan, joined by Justice Breyer and Justice Sotomayor in dissenting, wrote: “What is tragic here is that the Court has (yet again) rewritten—in order to weaken—a statute that stands as a monument to America’s greatness, and protects against its basest impulses. What is tragic is that the Court has damaged a statute designed to bring about “the end of discrimination in voting.”

In its final decision of the term, handed down shortly after and also 6-3, the court ruled that nonprofits do not have to disclose donor information to the California Attorney General, saying the requirement, currently in effect in the state, violates free speech — sparking fears of dark money and lack of transparency.

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