Supreme Court Declines to Fast-Track Ruling on Pennsylvania Ballot Deadline Extension

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Wednesday to expedite a decision on whether the state of Pennsylvania can extend the deadline to receive mail-in ballots.

The Court’s decision effectively allows Pennsylvania to move forward with its original plan to receive mail-in ballots for the presidential election up until November 6, three days after election day. The Republican Party of Pennsylvania had sued to prevent the extended deadline, arguing that it would damage voter confidence in the U.S. electoral process.

The Court initially allowed the mail-in deadline extension in a 4-4 tied vote last week. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was confirmed to the Court and sworn in on Monday, was almost immediately asked to recuse herself from the case entirely. However, Justice Barrett did not take part in the Wednesday decision on whether to reconsider the case.

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Justice Barret “did not participate in the consideration of this motion because of the need for a prompt resolution of it and because she has not had time to fully review the parties’ filings,” a Court spokesperson commented.

Justice Samuel Alito noted his dissatisfaction with the situation in a statement, and was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.

“It would be highly desirable to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of the [Pennsylvania] Supreme Court’s decision before the election. That question has national importance, and there is a strong likelihood that the [Pennsylvania] Supreme Court decision violates the Federal Constitution,” Justice Alito wrote. “But I reluctantly conclude that there is simply not enough time at this late date to decide the question before the election.”

Many Americans have chosen to vote by mail this year because of concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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