Biden criticizes ‘deeply disappointing’ Supreme Court ruling upholding Arizona’s new voting rules and accuses justices of undermining voting rights that took years of struggle and strife to secure
The 6-3 ruling, with the court’s conservative justices in the majority, endorsed regulations designed to restrict so-called ballot harvesting and preventing voters from casting ballots outside their home precinct.
It comes as a raft of Republican states looks to tighten voting rules amid President Donald Trump’s claims that fraud cost him the 2020 election.
President Biden issued a statement saying he was ‘deeply disappointed’ and Congress must act to protect democracy.
‘In a span of just eight years, the Court has now done severe damage to two of the most important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – a law that took years of struggle and strife to secure’, he said.
‘After all we have been through to deliver the promise of this nation to all Americans, we should be fully enforcing voting rights laws, not weakening them.’
The Supreme Court split along ideological lines. The justices in the majority, led by Samuel Alito said the measures did not violate a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark 1965 federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.
He wrote: ‘Having to identify one’s own polling place and then travel there to vote does not exceed the ‘usual burdens of voting.”
GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the decision was a ‘resounding victory’, adding that ‘Democrats were attempting to make Arizona ballots less secure for political gain, and the Court saw right through their partisan lies.’
‘Today is a win for election integrity safeguards in Arizona and across the country,’ Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement following the court’s ruling.
‘Fair elections are the cornerstone of our republic, and they start with rational laws that protect both the right to vote and the accuracy of the results.’
Liberal justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the decision.
‘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,’ wrote Kagan for the minority.
‘What is tragic is that the Court has damaged a statute designed to bring about ‘the end of discrimination in voting.’
‘I respectfully dissent.’
The ruling represented a victory for the Arizona Republican Party and Brnovich. They had appealed a lower court ruling that deemed the restrictions unlawful.
The case involves a 2016 Arizona law that made it a crime to provide another person’s completed early ballot to election officials, with the exception of family members or caregivers. Community activists sometimes engage in ballot collection to facilitate voting and increase voter turnout.