Democrats made a last-ditch plea to the Supreme Court Sunday night, urging the justices to restore an injunction barring Donald Trump’s campaign and its allies from Election Day actions that could intimidate voters looking to cast their ballots in the battleground state of Ohio. The Ohio Democratic Party’s emergency application to the high court asked the justices to reimpose the restraining order a federal appeals court lifted earlier in the day, arguing the 6th Circuit had issued a finding “with no basis in law.” The application seems likely to face an uphill battle at the shorthanded Supreme Court. Five justices are typically needed to grant such relief and the court is currently split 4-4 between Democratic and Republican appointees. Partisan considerations aside, the justices are also often wary of making last-minute changes to election rules or procedures.
U.S. District Court Judge James Gwin imposed the injunction Friday at the request of Ohio Democrats, who sued their Republican counterparts, the Trump campaign, Trump ally Roger Stone and his group Stop the Steal over their plans to seek out voter fraud at the polls and to conduct what Stone describes as “citizens'” exit polls. Gwin’s broad order prohibited a variety of activities at or near polling places, such as following or photographing voters or their vehicles or informing them of the penalties for voter fraud.
The judge’s order was specifically aimed at the Trump campaign, Stone and Stop the Steal, while Gwin — a Democratic appointee based in Cleveland — said he was denying the request for a restraining order against the Ohio Republican Party. However, the order he issued barred similar actions at or near polling places by “groups affiliated with the Clinton for Presidency campaign.”
After Trump’s campaign appealed, a three-judge panel of the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order Sunday morning lifting the injunction.