SCHUMER MELTDOWN: Chuck Slams Supreme Court’s Decision to ‘Disenfranchise’ Americans
13:43, Jun 13, 2018
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If the statute explicitly articulates that states should purge voters who are caught up in a "notify, wait, and purge" regime, why would the statute also include the words "except that no registrant may be removed exclusively by reason of a failure to vote" in the very same sentence that calls for such purges unless these words were meant to limit the scope of the purges?
The case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, was taken to the high court after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of OH resident Larry Harmon, who'd been removed from the state's registered voters list. If it finds voters have moved, they are contacted by voter registration, he said. He was joined by his four conservative colleagues in an opinion that drew praise from Republican officials and conservative scholars.
Six states have similar laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
In the past, the Justice Department has opposed Ohio's process as inconsistent with federal law. Under the law, which was previously invalidated by an appeals court in 2016, the state sends a notice to voters to confirm eligibility after a two year period of not voting. "It does not", Justice Alito wrote.
Monday's Supreme Court opinion did not deal with whatever alleged discriminatory effect Ohio's purge protocol had.
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Breyer pointed out that about 1 million OH registered voters - or 13 percent of the state's voting population - did not send back their cards, and "the streets of Ohio's cities are not filled with moving vans".
The procedure "does not strike any registrant exclusively by reason of the failure to vote", Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. If they respond, they are maintained on the voter rolls, he said. The majority of the Supreme Court concluded that Ohio's process didn't violate the law because the failure to return a notice indicates the voter has moved and is therefore ineligible to vote. Those who don't respond and then don't vote in the next four years are kicked off the rolls.
"Voters should not be purged from the rolls simply because they have exercised their right not to vote", he said in a statement. "First with the Voting Rights Act and today with giving the green light to an atrocious use-it-or-lose-it approach to voter registration".
But Ohio's law was considered the harshest in the nation because it kick-started the purging process after only two years.
Justice Stephen Breyer, countered in his dissent: "In my view, Ohio's program does just that".
In September 2016, a federal appeals court ruled against OH, saying that 7,515 ballots that had been struck could be cast in the that fall's election.
Absent evidence that Ohio's rules are based on discriminatory intent - and none was presented - OH shouldn't be estopped from attempts, in compliance with federal statutes, to maintain the integrity of its registrations rolls merely because members of certain groups may be unwilling, disproportionately, to take the simple measures needed to stay eligible. OH is the only one that starts the removal process after failing to vote in only one election, the center said. Ohio's process, he claims, "does not strike any registrant exclusively by reason of the failure to vote".
Justice Sotomayor, in addition to joining the main dissent, also wrote separately to emphasize how voter purge schemes like Ohio's have a disproportionate impact on low-income voters and minority voters.
After the last presidential election, the department switched sides in the case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, No. 16-980.
Adding to the tension in the case, the Trump administration reversed the position taken by the Obama administration and backed Ohio's method for purging voters.
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