[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Friday rejected [order, PDF] Michigan’s appeal of an injunction [text, PDF] that would not allow the state to ban straight-ticket voting. The ban [text, PDF] had been passed [WP report] by the legislature in 2015 and was heavily supported by state Republicans calling for the same modern ballot system already adopted by 40 other states. State democrats argued that the Republicans’ support of the ban was meant to inhibit minority voters that typically choose the Democratic Party. In July a district judge enjoined [JURIST report] enforcement of the law, stating that the ban on straight-ticket voting, which violates Equal Protection and the Voting Rights Act [law, PDF], is “caused by or linked to social and historical conditions that have produced or currently produce discrimination against African Americans.” The judge’s decision relied upon a report which links straight-ticket voting, generally for Democrats, to higher populations of African Americans within a community. Though the Supreme Court denied Michigan’s appeal of the decision, the justices did not offer any reasoning for their determination. Two justices stated they would have supported the state yet similarly decided not to voice their opinions. The court’s decision suggests that future legal challenges regarding voting controversies will be similarly treated as the presidential election approaches.
Voting rights remain a controversial legal issue in the US. Last week the Supreme Court denied a motion to reinstate [JURIST report] North Carolina’s recently overturned law that limited early voting to 10 days and required voters to present approved identification cards. Also last month the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] denied [JURIST report] an emergency petition for a rehearing regarding the Wisconsin voter ID law. The Illinois Supreme Court concluded [JURIST report] last week that placing a redistricting proposal on the ballot this fall would be unconstitutional. Earlier this month an Oklahoma County judge upheld a controversial voter identification law [JURIST report] allowing the law to be in place while early voting commenced for a primary run-off. Last month voter restrictions were overturned not only in North Carolina, but in Kansas and Wisconsin [JURIST reports]. Also last month Michigan Attorney General spokesman John Sellek said [JURIST report] that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson plan to appeal an injunction on the state’s law eliminating straight-ticket voting. Also Cook County Circuit Court Judge Diane Larsen blocked [JURIST report] a ballot measure proposing an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that aimed to eliminate the General Assembly’s power to draw legislative district boundaries.