The US Supreme Court late Wednesday refused to block North Carolina’s mail-in ballot receipt extension, denying state House Speaker Tim Moore’s request for an injunction. As a result, ballots received up to nine days after the election will be counted as long as they are postmarked by November 3.
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito dissented from the decision, while Justice Clarence Thomas merely stated he would grant the injunction. Justice Amy Coney Barrett took no part in the consideration of the case.
In his dissent, Justice Gorsuch pointed to the Supreme Court’s Monday decision, which disallowed the extension of Wisconsin’s ballot receipt deadline, and analogized the circumstances. He said:
Just days ago, this Court rejected a similar effort to rewrite a state legislature’s election deadlines. Wisconsin (like North Carolina) has a ballot receipt deadline enshrined in statute. All the same, a federal district court decided to order Wisconsin to extend its deadline by six days. The Seventh Circuit stayed that ruling, and we agreed with its disposition. For many of the same reasons I believe that decision was correct, I believe we should stay the Board’s action here.
Justice Gorsuch implied that the North Carolina State Board of Elections acted as though it had a “blank check” to “rewrite the election code in any and all consent decrees it may wish to enter.” He stated that the emergency powers granted to the state board of elections could only be exercised in narrow circumstances. None of those circumstances were present here.
States across the nation are engaged in legal battles over the upcoming presidential election. Check out JURIST’s election coverage here.