SCOTUS Protects Rule of Law by 5-4 Decision in Ohio Election Case

Supreme_Court_Building_at_DuskIn a case brought against the State of Ohio over how it interprets Federal law regarding the removal of ineligible voters from state voting rolls, four out of nine Justices attempted to legislate from the bench in deciding HUSTED v. A. PHILIP RANDOLPH INSTITUTE.

“Respondents contend that Ohio’s process for removing voters on change-of-residence grounds violates this federal law,” The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), and Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).

The majority makes it clear this is not the case, summed up as follows.

The dissents have a policy disagreement, not just with Ohio, but with Congress. But this case presents a question of statutory interpretation, not a question of policy. We have no authority to second-guess Congress or to decide whether Ohio’s Supplemental Process is the ideal method for keeping its voting rolls up to date. The only question before us is whether it violates federal law. It does not.


Factions on the Left are not happy, but if you read the decision Ohio is following the law as written by Congress and any effort to imagine it otherwise is judicial activism, as Justice Alito notes in writing for the majority. Whatever you feel is the right, or better policy makes no difference. Ohio did not violate federal law.

It’s the job of Congress to address, if at all, not the Court.

I’d also like to share at least one instance where the Majority makes time to address Justice Sotomayor writing for the Dissent. There are several such instances but this plays strongly on the Left’s reaction post-decision, the summation above, and the Majorities aversion to making law (at least in this case) as opposed to just interpreting it as written.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR’s dissent says nothing about what is relevant in this case—namely, the language of the  Cite as: 584 U. S. ____ (2018) 21 Opinion of the Court NVRA—but instead accuses us of “ignor[ing] the history of voter suppression” in this country and of “uphold[ing] a program that appears to further the . . . disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters.” Post, at 5. Those charges are misconceived. The NVRA prohibits state programs that are discriminatory, see §20507(b)(1), but respondents did not assert a claim under that provision. And JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR has not pointed to any evidence in the record that Ohio instituted or has carried out its program with discriminatory intent.

The challenge was about the policy as it relates to voter suppression, which, to be honest, is itself hard to swallow when you consider the logistics.

A ‘resident’ of Ohio does not vote for two years. The state sends a card to verify they are at the address on their voter registration. If they do not return the card or they throw it out, the state waits another four years before removing them from the list but only if there is no voter activity.

“Voter activity” includes “casting a ballot” in any election—whether general, primary, or special and whether federal, state, or local. See id., at 1507. (And Ohio regularly holds elections on both even and odd years.) Moreover, the term “voter activity” is broader than simply voting. It also includes such things as “sign[ing] a petition,” “filing a voter registration form, and updating a voting address with a variety of [state] entities.”

How do you suppress the vote of someone who doesn’t vote? The only possible way to do that would be to refuse to let them re-register which no one ever claims has happened.

I’ve not yet culled the interwebs for the local Democrat reaction, but I’m sure it’s out there. Time permitting well share those juxtaposed to the decision itself as if we can’t guess how that will turn out.