Justice Elena Kagan railed against her Supreme Court colleagues in a heated 41-page dissent issued Thursday after a majority upheld two Arizona voter integrity statutes she said are discriminatory to minorities.
Kagan’s blazing dissent comes amid a 6-3 decision in the case that saw the high court’s right-leaning majority pitted against the three liberals as Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer joined her in disagreement.
In accusing her colleagues of ignoring the intent behind the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Kagan wrote that her fellow jurists ignored Section 2 of the law which served to weaken “a statute that stands as a monument to America’s greatness.”
“Never has a statute done more to advance the nation’s highest ideals. And few laws are more vital in the current moment. Yet in the last decade, this court has treated no statute worse,” she wrote.
(Video: Fox News)
Kagan’s opinion is likely to fuel new calls from Democrats and their leftist allies in Congress for federal voting reform legislation that Republicans have said would institutionalize practices that will destroy election integrity such as ballot harvesting, banning voter ID, barring states from culling voter registration rolls to remove outdated names, and other measures.
In her opinion, Kagan went on to warn that “efforts to suppress the minority vote continue” though “no one would know this from reading the majority opinion.” She also opined that the majority ruling, which was written by Justice Samuel Alito, offered “a cramped reading” of the “broad language” of the law to uphold a pair of Arizona statutes that she claims “discriminate against minority voters.”
The first is a law Arizona passed in 2016 barring the transportation of another person’s absentee ballot to polling centers unless by a family member or caregiver, which opponents have dubbed “ballot harvesting.” The second statute, which has been in place for years, mandates that provisional ballots be discarded if they were cast in the wrong precinct.
Arizona election officials said neither measure is discriminatory and both are necessary to curb potential fraud.
A U.S. district court in the 9th Circuit, as well as a three-judge appeals panel, initially upheld both Arizona statutes, but an en banc appeal to the entire 9th Circuit found the laws to be improper. Thursday’s decision overturns the en banc appeal.
In his majority opinion, Alito wrote that neither statute was passed “with a racially discriminatory purpose” and that any racial disparities in voting districts throughout the state were too insignificant to demonstrate widespread discrimination.
“The mere fact there is some disparity in impact does not necessarily mean that a system is not equally open or that it does not give everyone an equal opportunity to vote,” he wrote.
As for ballot collection, Alito cited the lower district court ruling which found no “meaningful inequality” since the restriction applies equally to every voter.
In an appearance on Fox News’s “Hannity” Thursday evening, Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a U.S. Senate candidate who argued the case personally before the high court, praised the ruling and pushed back on the claim that the laws are discriminatory.
During oral arguments before SCOTUS, Brnovich said he cited findings from a 2005 study by former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican, which found that widespread mail-in balloting held the greatest potential for fraud.
In addition, the report pressed states to strengthen voter ID requirements, end ballot harvesting, maintain updated voter registration lists to ensure that dead people are removed, allow for unfettered election monitoring by observers, and ensure that voting machines work properly.
“The Constitution, federalism, election integrity have to mean something,” said Brnovich. “The U.S. Supreme Court held that states can enact common-sense election integrity measures to protect the ballot and protect the process.”
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