The Supreme Court sure looks like it’s fine-tuning the rules for the 2014 election. Over the past three weeks, the justices gave Ohio the green light to cut early voting by a week, let North Carolina end same-day voter registration and blocked Wisconsin from implementing a new voter ID law. And the justices could soon face another request, one that asks them to step in to block a Texas voter ID law from being enforced in next month’s elections. Despite the flurry of high court rulings, many legal analysts and some judges say the Supreme Court’s actions are less about broad voting rights principles than telling federal judges to butt out, particularly so close to Election Day. In each of the cases where the justices acted, lower federal courts had issued orders that would have changed the rules for elections just weeks away, potentially causing confusion among voters and election officials.
“While the Supreme Court has not explained its reasons for issuing these stays, the common thread is clearly that the decision of the Court of Appeals would change the rules of the election too soon before the election date,” 5th U.S. Circuit Judge Edith Clement wrote Tuesday as her court voted to allow Texas to enforce its new voter ID law.
“The stayed decisions have both upheld and struck down state statutes and affirmed and reversed district court decisions, so the timing of the decisions rather than their merits seems to be the key,” Clement added.