(USA Features) Left-wing lawmakers and advocacy groups are renewing pressure on Washington lawmakers to pass sweeping voting reform legislation that would federalize congressional and presidential elections and deregulate others after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold two Arizona statutes.
“The court’s decision, harmful as it is, does not limit Congress’ ability to repair the damage done today: it puts the burden back on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act to its intended strength,” President Joe Biden said, according to CBS News Friday.
The two Arizona statutes, one passed in 2016 and the other in place for years, barred so-called “ballot harvesting” — collection of mail-in ballots by third parties — and placed restrictions on absentee ballots. The high court ruled that neither law violates the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act, rejecting the Democratic National Committee’s claims that the statutes harmed minorities.
“Fraud can affect the outcome of a close election, and fraudulent votes dilute the right of citizens to cast ballots that carry appropriate weight. Fraud can also undermine public confidence in the fairness of elections and the perceived legitimacy of the announced outcome,” Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, said.
“Ensuring that every vote is cast freely, without intimidation or undue influence, is also a valid and important state interest,” he noted, adding that there is nothing in either statute that appears directed at limiting minorities’ ability to cast ballots.
“Arizona law generally makes it very easy to vote,” he noted.
“One strong and entirely legitimate state interest is the prevention of fraud,” he continued. “Fraud can affect the outcome of a close election, and fraudulent votes dilute the right of citizens to cast ballots that carry appropriate weight.
“Fraud can also undermine public confidence in the fairness of elections and the perceived legitimacy of the announced outcome,” the originalist justice added.
In a blistering dissent, Justice Elena Kagan, who was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, claimed that the majority “weakened” federal voting rights laws.
“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,” she wrote.
“What is tragic is that the Court has damaged a statute designed to bring about ‘the end of discrimination in voting,'” she added.
Left-wing lawmakers will now likely renew their push for passage of H.R. 1, the “For the People Act,” which would override current state laws and impose federal rules that would allow ballot harvesting, bar voter ID requirements, impose same-day voter registration, and remove restrictions on ballot drop-off boxes, among many other things, many of which are similar to what was done in key battleground states ahead of the 2020 election. This bill has been passed by the House but is now stalled in the 50-50 Senate.
Also, Democrats have been pushing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act reimposing a mandate that states which limited access to minorities in the past would have to obtain permission from the federal government before altering voting laws.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also blasted the high court’s ruling.
‘(The decision) only further underscores the need for Congress to act to preserve democracy,” Schumer said.
“It is simply unconscionable that the court’s conservative majority chose to double down on their gutting of the Voting Rights Act, failing to properly respond to a wave of restrictive and discriminatory laws in the wake of Shelby [the Arizona court case] and a flood of suppressive laws that have followed President (Donald) Trump’s Big Lie about the November election,” he added.